Alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal was the player to beat in 2005. The young Spaniard turned 19 in June, and that didn’t stop him from becoming the second strongest link on the Tour, winning his first Major crown and four Masters 1000 trophies. Rafa scored a notable victory over Roger in the Roland Garros semi-final, avenging that tough Miami Open final defeat. Hoping for a deep run at the US Open, Nadal defeated Bobby Reynolds in the opening round, losing only ten points behind the initial shot and delivering four breaks to control the scoreboard. Speaking about his hard-court game, Rafa said he can produce high-quality tennis on hard, playing well at the Australian Open in January and battling hard against Roger in the Miami Open title clash.
Federer and Nadal started their incredible rivalry on March 28, 2004, when the 17-year-old Spaniard took down world no. 1 in straight sets in Miami. Twelve months later, they reached the final in Florida, and Roger prevailed 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes after a titanic battle in one of the best ATP finals in the previous two decades! It was the first Masters 1000 final for an 18-year-old Nadal, who became the second-youngest finalist at this series after Michael Chang. A teenager had everything in his hands until the middle of the third set, leading 6-2, 7-6, 4-1 before Roger started one of the career-best comebacks to cross the finish line first.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer pushed each other to the limits in Miami 2005.
The Swiss took the third set tie break and played better and better as the match progressed to lift the first Miami Masters and a “Sunshine Double,” winning Indian Wells two weeks earlier. Roger won just seven points more than his rival and was two points away from losing in the third set’s tenth game and the tie break where Nadal had a 5-3 advantage and a serve for 6-3 and possible match points, which never happened. Federer won four points in a row to steal the set in the encounter’s pivotal moment and dropped just four games in sets four and five to march towards the finish line and grab the maiden crown in Florida.
“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,” Rafael Nadal said.