Young Rafael Nadal after a tight loss: 'I had my chances against Hewitt'

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Young Rafael Nadal after a tight loss: 'I had my chances against Hewitt'

Despite many setbacks, Rafael Nadal wrapped up the 2004 season in glory, defeating world no. 2 Andy Roddick in the Davis Cup final in Seville and helping his country win the title. Starting the following season from just outside the top-50, Nadal lost in the Doha quarter-final to Ivan Ljubicic and retired in the first match in Auckland, having some breathing issues and hoping to play with no troubles at the season's first Major in Melbourne.

The youngster made a great start against Julien Benneteau before surviving a stern Mikhail Youzhny test in five sets to enter the last 32. There, Bobby Reynolds could not do much against the world's most promising youngster, who lost only five games and sealed the deal in under 90 minutes to preserve energy for the long-awaited clash against Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round on Rod Laver Arena.

Rafael Nadal suffered a tight loss against Lleyton Hewitt in Melbourne 2005.

The Aussie defeated the Spaniard a year earlier after winning two tie breaks. The crowd's favorite had to work even harder in 2005 to deliver a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 triumph after three hours and 53 minutes.

Hewitt won just two points more than Nadal, who had a massive advantage on the court in sets two and three, motivated to show his best tennis in the deepest run at Majors up to that point. In the end, Lleyton survived all the fourth set's challenges to secure it in the tie break and leave the youngster with nothing left in the tank in the decider.

Rafa grabbed five breaks, and Lleyton responded with six, delivering his best tennis in the tie break where he had no room for errors and using that momentum to race through a decider. After the match, Nadal praised the opponent and his performance, citing those chances in the fourth set and hoping for more good results in the rest of the season.

"I do not think I run out of gas in the fourth set; that happened in the fifth as I had problems with cramps. I had my chances in the fourth, standing at 30-15 on the return a couple of times. I did not play badly in the crucial moments, but Lleyton played them better; that's why he won.

I was close to the finish line in the fourth, and once I missed that, there was no way for me to come back in the fifth, especially after Lleyton's good start; I could not do anything after that. His experience made the difference, playing many matches like this before.

Still, I'm happy with the way I performed, staying in touch for four sets and having my chances to beat world no. 3. If I maintain this level, I can achieve some big things this year. Lleyton and I are not that similar; I think I'm attacking more, while he has much better serve," Rafael Nadal said.