Rafael Nadal recalls: 'My goal is to be Roger Federer's closest rival'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'My goal is to be Roger Federer's closest rival'

Making a solid start of the season at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal became one of the players to beat in 2005. An 18-year-old won two ATP titles on clay in February. He made a nice transition to hard courts and reached the Miami final as the second-youngest player at the Masters 1000 level.

Roger Federer beat Nadal in five thrilling sets, with the Spaniard bouncing back on his beloved clay to lift the trophies in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros! Entering the top-3, Nadal did not keep that level on grass, suffering early exits in Halle and Wimbledon and returning to clay to claim titles in Bastad and Stuttgart.

Heading to Montreal as world no. 2, Nadal was the top seed in the absence of Roger Federer and one of the title favorites. Rafa made a winning start following a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over a compatriot and friend Carlos Moya.

In the second round, the youngster had a more relaxed day at the office. He toppled Ricardo Mello 6-1, 6-2 in 66 minutes, dominating from start to finish to grab another triumph and extend his run. The Spaniard dropped 11 points in eight service games, facing no break chances and taking 56% of the return points to grab four breaks from seven opportunities and sail into the last 16.

In the third match, Rafa ousted 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 quarters.

Rafael Nadal spoke about his goals after reaching the 2005 Montreal quarter-final.

At Roland Garros, Grosjean stayed in touch with Nadal for over three hours.

In Montreal, the Frenchman gave his best and still lost in straight sets in windy conditions. After the match, Rafa said he plans to finish the season in the top-2 behind Roger Federer, playing well that week and seeking the first title on hard courts.

"I played well against Carlos Moya and Ricardo Mello in the first encounters. Today was a difficult match because of the wind, but I'm happy to go through. I'm focused, taking my chances on the return and going for the shots with my forehand.

It feels great to reach the quarter-final here in Montreal. I do not think I'm the favorite to win the title. The other seven players in the quarter-final are also playing good tennis; we all have chances, and the top favorite, in my opinion, is Andre Agassi.

My goal is to finish the season ranked 2nd behind Roger Federer. I never won a tournament on hard, and I want to change that by the end of the year," Rafael Nadal said.