Fighting injuries in 2003 and 2004, Rafael Nadal turned things around in 2005 and became one of the players to watch. The young Spaniard claimed no less than 11 ATP titles that year, even as a teenager, and became number two in the world, 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 local fans in Madrid. Despite mild pain, Nadal advanced to the final after beating Victor Hanescu, Tommy Robredo, Radek Stepanek and Robby Ginepri, earning a spot in their fifth Masters 1000 title clash of the season!
In the semi-finals, the Spaniard beat Robby Ginepri 7-5, 7-6 in one hour and 41 minutes, playing best when it mattered most in both sets to seal the deal and conserve energy and knee for the final. Nadal took three breaks and scored nine more points than Ginepri to emerge at the top, gathering energy from public support and securing his 12th ATP final of the season.
Robby survived the first break points before Rafa stole his serve at 3-3 to forge the lead. The home favorite missed a backhand in the next game to squander the lead, starting again at 5-5 and closing the set with a late break in Game 11.
Cash reflects on Rafael Nadal
During a recent interview, Pat Cash offered his take on the ever-raging GOAT debate. The 1987 Wimbledon champion believes head-to-head records play an important role in determining the greatest player of all time.
Novak Djokovic currently has a positive head-to-head record against Roger Federer (27-23) and Rafael Nadal (30-28), which further strengthens his claim to the GOAT title. “Head-to-heads are significant. If you want to throw in who the greatest player of all time is, you have to have a winning head to head record against your other peers,” Cash said.
“Overall, (as) a player who can do everything, Federer has to be up there. Nadal, of course, was a very good volleyer and was able to use that," Cash said. "Not in the later years because his tactics were never going to trouble Federer.
But Novak’s returning, serving and ground strokes on slower grass courts that we have these days, to me, it feels like a bit of a pity that the courts have slowed down so much. Or the balls have slowed down, I should say."
The Serb is also bidding to complete the Calendar Golden Slam, which refers to winning all four Majors and the Olympics in the same year.