Rafael Nadal ahead of final: 'Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian are great players'

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Rafael Nadal ahead of final: 'Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian are great players'

Struggling with injuries in 2003 and 2004, Rafael Nadal turned the tables in 2005 and became one of the players to watch. The young Spaniard claimed no less than 11 ATP titles that year, still as a teenager, and became world no.

2 behind Roger Federer. Rafa had to slow down a bit after the US Open, struggling with knee tendonitis but still deciding to compete in front of the home fans in Madrid. Despite slight pain, Nadal advanced into the final after beating Victor Hanescu, Tommy Robredo, Radek Stepanek and Robby Ginepri, earning a place in the season's fifth Masters 1000 title clash!

In the semis, the Spaniard prevailed over Robby Ginepri 7-5, 7-6 in an hour and 41 minutes, playing better when it mattered the most in both sets to seal the deal and preserve energy and his knee for the final. Nadal grabbed three breaks and scored nine points more than Ginepri to emerge at the top, gathering energy from the crowd support and securing his 12th ATP final of the season!

Robby survived early break points before Rafa stole his serve at 3-3 to forge the advantage. The home favorite netted a backhand in the next game to squander the lead, starting all over at 5-5 and closing the set with a late break in game 11.

Rafael Nadal reached the Madrid Masters final in 2005.

Like in the opener, they traded breaks in set number two and stayed close to each other to reach a tie break that Rafa won 7-1 to move over the top. After the match, Nadal said that he had to play on a high level to topple the rival who likes to play on a fast surface.

Also, he didn't know who would be his opponent in the title match, with Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian entering the third set at the time of his press conference. "It was an important match against a good player. I didn't make too many unforced errors, and that proved to be essential.

I feel fine physically, and when I'm able to move as I want, I can catch many balls and stay away from mistakes. Both Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian are very tough to beat when they find their A-game; I will have to compete on a high level to defeat either of them," Rafael Nadal said.