Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have built one of the greatest rivalries in sport in the past 17 years. On March 28, 2004, their journey kicked off when the 17-year-old Spaniard took down world no. 1 in straight sets in Miami.
Twelve months later, two great rivals advanced into the final in Miami, and Roger prevailed 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes after a titanic battle and one of the best ATP finals in the previous two decades!
It was the first Masters 1000 final for an 18-year-old Nadal, who became the second-youngest finalist at this series after Michael Chang. Seeking his second win over Roger and the first Masters 1000 crown, Rafa forged a 6-2, 7-6, 4-1 advantage.
From that moment on, the Swiss shifted into a higher gear for one of the career-best comebacks and a notable win. Federer took the third set tie break and played better and better as the match progressed to lift the first Miami Masters and also a "Sunshine Double" after winning Indian Wells two weeks earlier.
Roger won just seven points more than his rival and was two points away from losing in the tenth game of the third set and the tie break where Nadal had a 5-3 advantage. Federer won four points in a row to steal the set in a pivotal moment of the entire encounter, dropping just four games in sets four and five to march towards the finish line and grab the maiden Florida crown.
Rafael Nadal lost a tight final against Roger Federer in Miami 2005.
Nadal defended his second serve more efficiently but had to play against 13 break chances, getting broken seven times and in his last three service games.
Federer suffered five breaks, and those came in the opening three sets before he found his A-game. After the encounter, Rafa said he was pleased with his tennis but not with the outcome. He praised Roger by saying that the Swiss played better when it mattered the most, going for his shots and producing winners and errors.
"I'm happy with the way I played; I'm improving. I led two sets to love and was 4-1 up in the third, with that umpire's wrong call in the eighth game, as Federer's forehand landed long. I'm satisfied with my tennis, but not with the outcome.
I lost my power in sets four and five after playing with high confidence in the third, standing so close to the finish line. Still, Roger showed why he is world no. 1, performing better in the crucial moments and marching towards the win with an early break in the decider.
I was surprised to see Federer throwing his racquet, and I thought I was close to victory at that moment. Roger is the player who goes for the shots and makes mistakes; still, when it matters the most, he would find his best shots," Rafael Nadal said.