Rafael Nadal recalls tight loss: 'I could have beaten Hewitt'



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Rafael Nadal recalls tight loss: 'I could have beaten Hewitt'

Despite many setbacks, Rafael Nadal wrapped up the 2004 season in glory. The young gun defeated world no. 2 Andy Roddick in the Davis Cup final in Seville and helped 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.

Rafa had breathing issues and wished to compete 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.

Bobby Reynolds could not do much against the world's most promising youngster. Rafa lost only five games and sealed the deal in under 90 minutes to preserve energy for the long-awaited fourth-round clash against Lleyton Hewitt at 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 harder in 2005 to deliver a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 triumph in three hours and 53 minutes and advance into the quarter-final.

Hewitt won just two more points than Nadal, who had a massive advantage on the court in sets two and three. The Spaniard was 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. The home favorite used that momentum to race through a decider and avoid an early loss. Nadal praised the opponent and his performance, mentioning those chances in the fourth set and hoping for more good results in the rest of the season.

"I do not think I ran out of gas in the fourth set; that happened in the fifth when I struggled with cramps. I had my chances in the fourth set, standing at 30-15 on the return several times. I did not play badly in the crucial moments, but Lleyton was better than me; 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 how I performed, staying in touch with world no. 3 for four sets and having chances to beat him. I can achieve some big things this year if I maintain this level. Lleyton and I are not that similar; I think I'm attacking more, while he has much better serve," Rafael Nadal said.