Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Facing Roger Federer in the final was surprising'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'Facing Roger Federer in the final was surprising'

Due to injuries, Rafael Nadal could not progress through the ATP list in 2004, skipping three months and still winning the first ATP title in Sopot in August. At the end of the year, the youngster delivered an important point for Spain over the USA in the Davis Cup final in Seville and gained a boost ahead of 2005.

Nadal did not play at his best in Doha and Auckland, fixing that at the Australian Open, where he advanced into the fourth round at Majors for the first time. Rafa lost to Lleyton Hewitt in five sets and gathered momentum ahead of South American clay-swing, where he lifted crowns in Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco.

An illness prevented Rafa from competing in Indian Wells, and he headed to Miami on the verge of the top-30. The Spaniard showed his best tennis in Florida to reach the final where he stunned world no. 1 Roger Federer a year ago.

Rafa toppled Rainer Schuettler, Fernando Verdasco, Ivan Ljubicic, Thomas Johansson and David Ferrer to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang and set another Federer clash in the quest for the first notable title.

After an incredible battle, Roger prevailed 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes, producing one of his finest comebacks after trailing two sets to love and 4-1 in the third!

Rafael Nadal played his first Masters 1000 final against Roger Federer in Miami 2005.

The Swiss took the third set tie break from 5-3 down and never looked back in the rest of the clash, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net and sealing the deal in style in the decider.

Nadal was two points away from victory at 5-4 in the third set and again in the tie break, unable to make that one last push and beat Roger for the second straight year in Miami. Federer had his chances in the second set, but Nadal remained calm, fending off two set points and taking it in the tie break to move just a step away from the crown, especially after building that advantage in the third.

With no room for errors, Roger endured all the efforts and played well when it mattered the most to survive the tie break and sail towards the win in sets four and five. "I played on clay before heading to Miami, and I did not expect to reach the final.

It is my first Masters Series title match, and it came as a little surprise. I'm playing well, and I hope it will not be my last final at this level," Rafael Nadal said.