Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I do not think about facing Roger Federer'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I do not think about facing Roger Federer'

An 18-year-old Rafael Nadal was among the title favorites in Monte Carlo 2005. The youngster reached the final in the previous Masters 1000 event in Miami and wished for another strong run on his beloved clay. Still, Rafa did not think about significant results and victories, going match by match and focusing on improvements.

Nadal mentioned his opponents as the favorites in the Principality, staying focused only on his next rival. The Spaniard had great results in the opening three months of 2005, winning three matches at the Australian Open and conquering two titles on clay in Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco to find himself on the verge of the top-30.

Skipping Indian Wells, Rafa produced his A-game in Miami, standing two points away from beating Roger Federer in straight sets in the final before losing a five-setter. Following the Valencia quarter-final loss to Igor Andreev right after Miami, Rafa was eager to prove his clay-court magic in Monte Carlo, where he debuted at 16 two years ago.

Not thinking about big goals, Rafael Nadal made a winning start in Monte Carlo 2005.

The Spaniard toppled his coeval Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes in the opening round, getting broken twice and having the upper hand on the return to grab five breaks and seal the deal in under an hour and a half.

Rafa was the more successful player in the extended exchanges, forcing Gael to run a lot and get tired in set number two. After the victory, the Spaniard said he did not think about facing Roger Federer again in the potential semi-final clash, focusing on improvements in his game and only the next obstacle.

"I'm not thinking about facing Roger Federer. I was two points away from beating him in Miami. Still, I was not able to bring it home. I'm not thinking about future rivals, but how to improve my game and seek more wins instead.

I do not feel there is a big gap between my performance on hard and clay; I almost defeated Lleyton Hewitt in Melbourne and played well in Miami. Still, I feel more relaxed on clay, and many more things can happen during the encounter," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Roger Federer