Rafael Nadal, 19, about the US Open: ‘I have to raise my level in next match’

Rafael Nadal turned 19 in June 2005, and he was already among the world’s leading players. The young Spaniard claimed nine ATP titles ahead of the US Open, lifting his first Major crown in Paris and three Masters 1000 crowns to become world no. 2. Rafa claimed the title in Montreal before an early exit a week later in Cincinnati, hoping for a better run at the US Open, where he didn’t play well in the previous years. Nadal made a winning start in New York, beating Bobby Reynolds 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 49 minutes. The Spaniard lost only ten points in his games and fended off both break points to keep the pressure on the other side. Despite throwing everything he had at Nadal, Reynolds couldn’t match the youngster’s pace, suffering four breaks and ending his campaign in the opening round. Rafa was happy with how he served, although he still wanted to make some improvements ahead of the next rounds if he wanted to make a deep run at the season’s last Major.

“The first match is always tricky. I think I served well against Bobby Reynolds. I feel a bit more comfortable in my service games than in the past. In every game, I have one service winner or an easy point with my forehand right after the serve, which is essential. I’m world no. 2 now, and it’s different US Open than in the previous years.

Rafael Nadal made a strong start at the US Open 2005.

I have played very well this year. I wasn’t playing at my best in my previous US Open visits, and I wasn’t happy with my game. It’s different now, as I played well in Montreal on the same surface; last year, I came to New York after early exits in Canada and Cincinnati. Now I have more confidence, but you never know in tennis, as I can lose in the next match. I feel good in slower hard courts; they aren’t that different from clay. I played well in Australia, losing in the fourth round to Hewitt and having my chances.

That Miami Open match against Roger Federer was unbelievable, and I also reached the Auckland final in 2004. I know that I can play well on this surface if I bring my best tennis. The ball is a bit different in comparison to Montreal, and I have to adapt and play better in the next round. I didn’t play that well today, and I want to improve my game ahead of the next clash. I can’t speak about the potential final against Roger Federer, he has to win six matches, and I need five wins to get there. I can only think about my next rival, as every match is different,” Rafael Nadal said.