Roger Federer became the leader of men’s tennis in 2004, winning three Major titles and forging a massive advantage over his closest rivals. In 2005, a teenager Rafael Nadal joined him as the second-strongest link on the Tour, following Roger’s 11 ATP titles and winning his first Major crown at Roland Garros. Roger and Rafa conquered three Majors and eight Masters 1000 events that season, leaving all the rivals behind and starting one of the greatest rivalries in the sport’s history. In Miami, Federer stood on the verge of defeat against Nadal before prevailing in five sets to claim the title. The Spaniard served revenge in the Roland Garros semi-final, beating Roger on his 19th birthday to remain on the title course.
Roger didn’t lose a match in his next five tournaments, defending the Wimbledon and US Open crowns to stand on six Majors at 24. Federer won 77 encounters by Bangkok in early October before spraining his right ankle while practicing in Basel ten days later, withdrawing from Madrid, Basel and Paris. Nadal wasn’t at his best in the season’s closing stages either, suffering from knee tendonitis and skipping Vienna ahead of the home Masters 1000 event in the Spanish capital. Doing his best to compete in front of his fans, Nadal advanced into the fifth Masters 1000 final following wins over Victor Hanescu, Tommy Robredo, Radek Stepanek and Robby Ginepri.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer became the greatest rivals in 2005.
In the semis, the Spaniard prevailed over Ginepri 7-5, 7-6 in an hour and 41 minutes, playing better when it mattered the most to seal the deal and preserve energy and his knee for the title clash, the second of the season in Spain after Barcelona. Triumph over Ginepri was Nadal’s 78th of the season, leaving Roger on 77 and standing as the Tour leader at that moment. Speaking about Federer, Nadal revealed they don’t talk that often, although he congratulated the Swiss when he won Major titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“Roger and I don’t talk that often; I congratulated him on Wimbledon and the US Open, and we spoke now during the Madrid Masters. We have a good relationship; he is No. 1 and a great person, calm and quiet,” Rafael Nadal said.