Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I will always remember my first notable title'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I will always remember my first notable title'

Rafael Nadal played his first Masters 1000 final in Miami 2005, still at 18, becoming the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang. After two titles on clay, the Spaniard came to Miami and carried that momentum to hard courts, advancing into his young career's most significant title match.

Rafa played on a high level for two and a half sets against world no. 1 Roger Federer to open a massive gap and stand two points away from the title. Still, Federer survived the third set and dominated the fourth and fifth to cross the finish line first and leave Nadal with the runner-up reward.

Playing in Valencia already in the following week, Rafa lost in the quarters and took a few days off ahead of Monte Carlo, returning to the Principality for the first time since 2003 when he reached the third round at 16.

Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus stood no chance against the Spaniard, who delivered another superb performance to oust the defending Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio 6-3, 6-0 for a place in the last four.

Rafa had to work harder to overpower Richard Gasquet 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 after being a set and a break down, reaching the second consecutive Masters 1000 final and facing the defending champion Guillermo Coria.

Rafael Nadal claimed the first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo 2005.

After three hours and nine minutes, Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion at 18 years and ten months.

The Spaniard had the upper hand in sets one and two, dictating the rallies with his forehand and standing strong on the return to mount a massive lead. Coria bounced back in set number three to deliver a bagel and erased a 4-1 deficit in set number four before Nadal prevailed in the closing stages to emerge at the top.

Nadal saved 11 out of 16 break chances to limit the damage in his games and grabbed seven breaks from 20 opportunities that carried him towards the trophy. Thrilled about the win, Nadal said he would never forget his first notable title, although he still had to work hard on improvements to make his game even better.

"I will always remember my first big title, but I still have to improve my shots and tennis in general; that's my objective, especially my serve, slice and volleys. Today, I had some serve & volleys, trying to go to the net, which is a lottery, as Coria never misses," Rafael Nadal said.