Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Gasquet defeated Roger Federer, and I'm happy to pass him'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Gasquet defeated Roger Federer, and I'm happy to pass him'

Eager to improve his ranking position as soon as possible after injuries, Rafael Nadal was ready to rumble right from the start of the 2005 season. The young Spaniard reached the Australian Open fourth round and claimed two ATP titles on his beloved clay in Brazil and Mexico.

Rafa earned enough points to move to the verge of the top-30 ahead of Miami, where he played on a high level again and became the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang. Despite being two points away from victory, Nadal lost to Roger Federer in five thrilling sets and pursued his first Masters 1000 title a few weeks later in Monte Carlo.

Two years after making a debut in the Principality at 16, Nadal was one of the title favorites, playing well from the first round and advancing into another notable final following a hard-fought 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Richard Gasquet.

Rafael Nadal reached Masters 1000 finals in Miami and Monte Carlo in 2005.

The Frenchman qualified for the main draw and toppled some big names to reach the semis, fending off three match points against Roger Federer in the quarters and having a set and a break advantage against Nadal.

Rafa wasted a 5-4 and 6-5 lead in the opener, losing it in the tie break and finding himself 2-0 down in the second set. With no room for errors, the Spaniard pulled the break back and scored another to steal the set 6-4 and gain a boost.

Rafa overpowered Richard in the decider to reach the second notable final within a few weeks and set the title clash against Guillermo Coria. "I'm happy to reach the second consecutive Masters 1000 final and gain more places on the ATP ranking list.

Gasquet has played on a high level in the last couple of weeks, winning two Challengers and qualifying for the main draw here in Monte Carlo to beat Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko and Felix Mantilla. I'm thrilled to defeat him and advance into the final.

It was tough in the first set, especially after wasting 5-4 and 6-5 lead. He even had an early advantage in the second set before starting to miss some balls, allowing me to bounce back and turn the scoreboard into my favor. Richard was a bit tired in the deciding set, and the momentum was on my side," Rafael Nadal said.