On this day: Rafael Nadal, 18, wins third career title in Acapulco in dominant style



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On this day: Rafael Nadal, 18, wins third career title in Acapulco in dominant style

Back in 2005, Roger Federer was still the player to beat on the ATP Tour, with a young opponent ready to challenge him in the years to come. A teenager Rafael Nadal claimed 11 titles that year, just like Roger, setting many age records and lifting his first Major crown at Roland Garros, just after turning 19.

The Spaniard won 79 matches that year, showing incredible consistency and unmatched fighting spirit that led him towards numerous triumphs in tough situations. Acapulco wasn't among them, though, as Rafa grabbed five straight-sets wins to lift the third ATP crown and the second in two weeks after Costa do Sauipe.

Unlike in the previous week where he spent more than seven hours on the court in the last three encounters, Nadal was the dominant figure in Acapulco, dropping 30 games in ten sets and delivering one of the most one-sided finals in the last couple of years to lift the trophy.

The youngster ousted Alex Calatrava 6-4, 6-4, Santiago Ventura 7-6, 6-2 and Guillermo Canas 7-5, 6-3 after getting broken only twice in total, toppling Mariano Puerta (they would play Roland Garros final in June) in the semis to set the title clash against a compatriot Albert Montanes.

It was the third ATP final for the more experienced Spaniard and the third loss, with an 18-year-old storming over him to forge a 6-1, 6-0 victory in 52 minutes! Serving at 78%, Rafa lost eight points in seven service games, never facing a break point and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.

As the result suggests, Montanes was far from those numbers, dropping 60% of the points behind the initial shot and suffering five breaks from nine chances offered to Nadal to finish runner-up. The youngster had more than 20 winners and less than ten unforced errors, having the upper hand in both the shortest and more advanced exchanges to seal the deal in no time at all and claim already the 17th victory of the season.

Rafa held at 15 in the first game to get his name on the scoreboard, securing a break in the next game after a double fault from Albert and opening a 3-0 lead with three winners in the third game. Montanes sprayed an error from his one-handed backhand to give serve away for the second time and fall 4-0 down, with Nadal moving further in front thanks to an incredible forehand winner in the next game, forcing the rival to serve for staying in the set.

Albert held at 15 to avoid the bagel before Rafa closed the opener with an ace in game seven for a 6-1. The younger Spaniard scored another break at the beginning of the second set, cementing it with a hold at love after a volley winner and landing a forehand down the line winner for a break that sent him 3-0 in front.

Rafa extended the advantage with a service winner and placed a backhand winner to clinch the break that allowed him to serve for the title at 5-0. Three winners in that sixth game were more than enough for a teenager to wrap up a perfect week and celebrate the third ATP crown, preparing the ground for an even better spring streak that would make him the Masters 1000 and Major champion.