Young Rafael Nadal: ‘Losing at Major event is never easy’

Rafael Nadal became world no. 2 in the summer of 2005, claiming his first Major crown in June and conquering three straight titles in July and August. After the Roland Garros title, Rafa made an early exit at Wimbledon and hoped for a better run at the US Open, where he did not have good results in the previous two years. Rafa secured two victories in New York before falling to James Blake in four sets and hitting the exit door again without reaching the second week. In the first match, the Spaniard defeated Bobby Reynolds 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, never losing serve and producing four breaks to make a winning start. World no. 352 Scoville Jenkins gave his best against Rafa in the second round before the favorite prevailed 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in just under two and a half hours. Rafa was unhappy with his level in the opening two matches, hoping to improve it ahead of a dangerous opponent in the next one.

Rafael Nadal suffered an early exit at the US Open 2005.

As it turned out, Blake proved too strong for Nadal, beating a teenager 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to move into the last 16. Nadal was not pleased with his performance, lacking confidence in the crucial moments and having nothing left in the tank in set number four. James fended off eight out of ten break chances and stole Rafa’s serve six times to control the scoreboard and earn one of the career-best triumphs at that moment. 

“I just lost at one of the world’s best tournaments, so I’m not very happy right now. I knew it would be tough; Blake is playing great tennis. I was unhappy about my game in the opening two rounds; I improved it a bit today, but it was not enough. There were some unlucky points in the opening set, and I could have finished the second earlier. I broke James in the tenth game to take the set and gain some confidence, starting well in the third. I played a terrible game on my serve, which sent me back. Blake is fast, and he has a great forehand. He had deep runs ahead of the US Open and won two notable matches here before facing me. That gave him confidence, and he showed that today. I lost confidence in the fourth set, and he played well, doing everything right on the court,” Rafael Nadal said.