ThrowbackTimes Barcelona: Rafael Nadal wins first title over Juan Carlos Ferrero



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ThrowbackTimes Barcelona: Rafael Nadal wins first title over Juan Carlos Ferrero

The 2005 season was yet to enter the fifth month when an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal already claimed four titles, continuing his stellar progress through the rankings and winning the first Masters 1000 crown in Monte Carlo. Instead of feeling satisfied after such a great result, or at least tired, Nadal was hungry for more already in the next week, beating a former Roland Garros winner Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 7-6, 6-3 for the first title in Barcelona.

A few weeks earlier in Valencia, Nadal needed less than an hour to dismiss a former world no. 1 6-2, 6-1, having to work much harder in Barcelona where he brought the victory home in two hours and 56 minutes. The youngster fended off eight out of nine break chances he played against, stealing rival's serve four times from 11 break opportunities to seal the deal in straight sets and kick off his incredible streak at one of the oldest tournaments in the world.

With those 300 points on his tally and after collecting 500 in Monte Carlo seven days earlier, Rafa found himself inside the top-10 for the first time on the following day, a fact that made this success even more special for him.

After three solid holds on both sides, it was Nadal who drew first blood in game four, converting the fifth break chance when Ferrero netted a forehand to open a 3-1 lead. The youngster cemented the break with a smash winner and grabbed another break in the next game after a double fault from the more experienced Spaniard.

Nadal wrapped up the set with an ace at 5-1, making the best possible start of the best-of-five title match. Ferrero finally broke Nadal in game four of the second set to move 3-1 ahead, although he stayed there only for one game as Rafa broke back a few minutes later following a loose forehand from his opponent.

There were no more breaks of serve in the rest of the set and the tie break was to decide the winner, with the pressure on Juan Carlos who didn't want to find himself two sets to love down. Nadal kept his focus and fired a forehand down the line winner to clinch the breaker 7-4, becoming a clear favorite for the title now as he gathered enormous momentum.

That became even more evident after a return winner that sent him 2-0 up in set number three, confirming the break with a service winner and surviving no less than five break chances at 3-1 to increase the advantage and show the mental toughness of a true champion.

Rafa made a comfortable hold in game seven and Ferrero served to stay in the match in the next one, delivering an excellent serving game to extend his chances at least for a couple of minutes. His efforts were in vain, though, as Nadal sealed the deal with a hold at 15 at 5-3 to cross the finish line and celebrate the title after a service winner, kicking off his fantastic journey in Barcelona just like he did a week ago in Monte Carlo and forging his path towards the clay-court greatness.