Andy Murray had been one of the most promising youngsters at the beginning of the new millennium, making professional debut at the age of 16 in 2003 to reach Challenger quarter-final and winning his first Futures title at home in Glasgow in September.
The Briton had finished the season in the top-600, with plenty more to come in 2004 when he claimed four Futures titles in Spain and Italy to move closer to the place in the top-400 and set even bigger goals for 2005. After making an ATP debut in the spring of 2005 in Barcelona, Andy won seven matches on grass at Queen's, Wimbledon and Newport, reaching the third round on his Major debut in front of the home fans and becoming the force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
After a fantastic month that was crowned with the first Challenger title in Aptos, Andy gained almost 200 positions in the rankings and was marching towards the place in the top-100 following another Challenger title in Binghamton.
Murray claimed his first Masters 1000 win in Cincinnati before losing to world no. 4 Marat Safin in three sets, earning one victory at the US Open to complete a stellar summer that revealed his full potential. Murray's eighth ATP tournament in career came in Bangkok at the end of September, defeating Georg Bastl, Robin Soderling, Robby Ginepri and Paradorn Srichaphan to enter the first ATP final at the age of 18, facing world no.
1 and the six-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the title match on October 2nd. Roger was the dominant figure on the Tour for the second year in a row, proving to be too strong for Murray as well after scoring a 6-3, 7-5 triumph in an hour and 26 minutes, leaving the youngster empty-handed despite a solid effort.
Both players struggled to find the first serve and it was Federer who defended the second more efficiently to emerge at the top, fending off two out of three break points and stealing Andy's serve three times from nine opportunities.
Nothing could have separated them in the shortest rallies, with Andy staying in touch in the number of service winners and with the first groundstroke after the initial shot. On the other hand, Roger had the upper hand in the mid-range and longer exchanges, constructing the points nicely and finding the way to break Murray's resistance and secure the win in straight sets.
The Swiss held at love in the opening game and broke Andy in the following one after a double fault from the youngster who wasted three game points for the worst possible start. Roger fired three winners in the third game to confirm the advantage, closing it with a backhand down the line winner and building the confidence before the rest of the set.
Murray got his name on the scoreboard after a backhand error from Roger in the fourth game, reaching the first deuce on the return in the next game before Federer brought it home with a smash winner at the net. Roger could have grabbed the opening set earlier, creating a couple of break chances in the sixth game before Murray repelled them to stay in contention and with one break deficit.
The youngster reached two deuces on the return in the next game as well but was yet to create a break point, netting a backhand to send Federer 5-2 up and closer to the finish line. Serving for the opener in game nine, Roger landed a volley winner for a 6-3 after 37 minutes, putting one hand on the 11th ATP title of the season.
Murray suffered a break at the beginning of the second set and the defending champion moved 2-0 up with a service winner, finding the perfect rhythm and sailing towards the finish line. Andy erased a break point in the fifth game when he forced an error from Roger and finally created some damage on the return in the next game, earning two break points with a volley winner.
He converted the second following a loose forehand from Roger and held in game seven for his first lead of the encounter. The more experienced player kept everything under control, though, squandering two break points in the ninth game but breaking Andy at 5-5 to serve for the title in the next game.
Murray was still fighting for every point, earning one last break chance that could have sent them into a tie break, only to be denied by a forehand winner from Roger who sealed the deal with a service winner for his 11th ATP crown of the season and the 77th victory in the last 80 matches!
Andy had to wait for a few more months before lifting the first ATP title, prevailing over Lleyton Hewitt in San Jose in February 2006 to start a thrilling journey that has led him towards 45 trophies so far.