After 20 years on the Tour, Rafael Nadal is still among the world's leading players, despite numerous injuries. Building his own style that became recognized globally by 2005, Nadal had no idols or players to look up to when he was young, focusing on his path and drawing the most from his talent and abilities.
Still a teenager, Nadal became one of the world's leading players in the mentioned season. The Spaniard had an incredible run in the Masters 1000 series, lifting multiple trophies on clay and hard and securing the first Major title at Roland Garros a couple of days after turning 19.
Following a strong campaign on clay that saw him winning Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros, Nadal suffered early exits in Halle and Wimbledon. The youngster was back on the winning way in Bastad and Stuttgart, earning more ATP titles on clay and becoming world no.
2 ahead of Montreal.
Rafael Nadal spoke about Andre Agassi ahead of their 2005 Montreal clash.
Nadal was the top seed and one of the players to watch in Canada when Roger Federer withdrew. Rafa made a winning start with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over a compatriot and friend Carlos Moya.
The youngster had to work hard in that one, experiencing a more relaxed day at the office in the second round when he ousted Ricardo Mello 6-1, 6-2 in 66 minutes. In a battle for the quarter-final, Rafa defeated Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes, repelling all five break opportunities and stealing the opponent's serve once in each set to advance into the semis.
His next rival was Paul-Henri Mathieu, who played on a high level that week, giving his best against Rafa but ending up losing. A teenager prevailed 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 50 minutes, getting broken at 5-4 in the second set while serving for the victory and recovering quickly to advance into the final.
Rafa said he would love to play against Andre Agassi for the trophy, calling the American one of the greatest players of all time. "I was a bit nervous at 5-4 in the second set, for the first time this week. It wasn't the best moment to get broken for the first time, but that's all normal, serving for the place in the Masters 1000 final.
Mathieu played well, beating tough rivals and dropping only a couple of games in the last matches. He made two double faults at 5-5 in the second set, losing focus for the first time and allowing me to seal the deal in straight sets.
If I meet Andre Agassi in the final, I will be thrilled. Andre is one of the best players in history, and I would love to play against him before he retires. He was not my idol, as I had none, but I watched him on TV. The crowd has been adorable, supporting me throughout the week, both on and off the court," Rafael Nadal said.