Rafael Nadal, 19: ‘One of my season’s goals was to play well in Madrid, Shanghai’

In one of the greatest seasons for teenagers in the Open era, Rafael Nadal claimed 11 ATP titles from 12 finals in 2005, becoming a Major champion and world no. 2 behind Roger Federer. Alongside unbelievable results on clay, an incredible youngster almost beat Federer in the Miami final before conquering Canada and Beijing. Heading to Madrid with three Masters 1000 titles by his name, Nadal overcame a knee injury to beat four rivals and advance into the season’s 12th final, toppling Robby Ginepri 7-5, 7-6 in an hour and 41 minutes for the fifth Masters 1000 title match in 2005! Well-capable of playing on a high level at hard-court Masters 1000 events, Ginepri advanced to the semi-final for the second time in a row after Cincinnati, where he took a set away from Roger Federer. The American defeated Sebastien Grosjean, Nikolay Davydenko and David Ferrer to set Nadal clash, trying to reach the biggest final of his career.

Despite his great effort, it was the Spaniard who sealed the deal in two tight sets, winning nine points more than his rival and claiming three breaks from eight opportunities to move over the top. Robby hit three winners from 30-0 down in the third game to avoid break chances and fired four more two games later for a hold at love and a 3-2 lead. That all changed at 3-3 when Rafa landed a forehand winner to create first break opportunities, wasting them after some strong hitting from the American before converting the third when Ginepri netted a backhand. Instead of confirming the break, Nadal got broken a few minutes later after a shaky performance, netting a backhand and keeping Ginepri alive. Three winners in the ninth game sent Robby in front again, and Nadal leveled the score at 5-5 despite being 30-0 down and two points away from losing the set. Facing more troubles on serve in the 11th game, Ginepri repelled two break points with beautiful winners before Nadal converted the third after his opponent’s loose forehand.

In 2005, Rafael Nadal advanced to the Masters 1000 final at home in Madrid.

Serving for the set, the Spaniard found himself 30-0 down again, but that wasn’t an obstacle for him, delivering three great serves and a forehand winner that sent him over the top. Both players served well in the second set’s first six games, and it was Nadal who punched the first strike with a break at 15 that pushed him 4-3 up following a backhand mistake from the American. Out of a sudden, Robby pulled the break back in the next one thanks to Rafa’s weak forehand, getting the second chance and closing the ninth game with a forehand drive-volley winner that sent him 5-4 up. With no room for errors, Nadal hit a service winner to level the score at 5-5 before two good holds on both sides that set a tie break. Robby made a poor start and fell 2-0 behind after Nadal’s forehand winner. A service winner allowed the Spaniard to go 6-1 up, and he moved over the top when Ginepri sent a forehand long in the next one. 

“Reaching the Masters 1000 final is something special for me, especially here in Madrid on an indoor court. One of my goals at the beginning of the season was to play well in Madrid and Shanghai. No matter what could happen today, this was a good tournament. Now, it got even better, and I hope I can win. That would be my 11th title of the season and fourth at the Masters level; that would be incredible,” Rafael Nadal said.