Ivan Ljubicic lost the lead in those moments, and Rafael Nadal broke him in the third game of the fourth set with a forehand winner to boost his confidence before a forehand winner put him 3-1 up. The home favorite needed more of that in game six when he saved a break point, hitting a service winner to create a 4-2 gap and holding at love with another in game eight.
Serving at 5-4, Rafa held 30 to send the thrilling match into the final before the Spanish crowd, who burst into delight when Iván sent a backhand long on the last point. A fantastic volley winner gave Ljubicic two break points in the second game of the final set, and he surged into the lead after Nadal's terrible backhand.
The Spaniard broke again immediately after Ivan's double fault before the Croat went down to two deuces on the return in game eight, unable to create break chances. Four good at-bats sent them into a tie break, where Nadal opened up a 3-0 lead with a beautiful forehand crosscourt winner.
Two crucial serving points put the youngster 5-2 up, and he picked up another mini-break after Ljubicic's tired forehand for three match points. The teenager converted the first after another clean right from the Croatian to drop to the ground in disbelief, starting a huge celebration of what has been one of his most notable victories.
"My fondest memory of the Madrid Open goes back to 2005, when I won the first title."
Seles opens up on Rafa Nadal
In a recent interview with Richard Osborn on the sidelines of the 2022 BNP Paribas Open, former World No.
1 Monica Seles revealed that Rafael Nadal is the player she relates to the most. "I truly believe we’re such individuals," Seles said. "In terms of my playing style, it was so unique, with two hands on both sides, a lefty, I mean, just totally unorthodox.
But in terms of being competitive and just looking at one ball at a time. I’d probably have to say Nadal, because we both have that mindset that when we step on the court, we don’t pay attention to what’s happening off the court.
When I watch him, I’m like, “Oh, boy, I was like that!”," she continued. "Any version you are, as long as you’re staying true to yourself and you put the absolute maximum effort out there when you step on the court, and you compete hard and fair, if I was coaching somebody, that’s all I could ask."