'When you have the opportunity to see Rafael Nadal...', says top analyst



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'When you have the opportunity to see Rafael Nadal...', says top analyst

Rafael Nadal played his first Masters 1000 final in Miami 2005, still 18 years old, becoming the second youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang. After two titles on clay, the Spaniard arrived in Miami and carried that momentum onto the hard courts, advancing to the biggest title match of his young career.

Rafa played at a high level for two and a half sets against world number 1 Roger Federer to open a huge gap and move within two points of the title. Still, Federer survived the third set and dominated the fourth and fifth to cross the finish line in first place and leave Nadal with the runner-up spot.

Playing in Valencia already the following week, Rafa lost in the quarterfinals 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 in the round of 16.

Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus had no chance against the Spaniard, who once again put in a magnificent performance to defeat the reigning Roland Garros champion, Gastón Gaudio, 6-3, 6-0, and thus secure the pass to semifinals.

Rafa had to work harder to overcome Richard Gasquet 6-7 6-4 6-3 after trailing a set and a break, reaching the second consecutive Masters 1000 final and facing defending champion Guillermo Coria. After three hours and nine minutes, Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion, aged 18 years and ten months.

The Spaniard prevailed in sets one and two, dictating the rallies with his forehand and coming on strong on the return for a huge lead. Coria rallied in the third set to take a 4-1 lead in the fourth, before Nadal came out on top in the closing stages of the match.

Nadal is a tennis legend

Rafael Nadal's eventual retirement will be the 'talk of the town' in the tennis world, according to ATP commentator Brian Clark. "As a tennis player, there are more yesterdays than tomorrows for Nadal," Clark stated.

"I wonder if he'll have learned, take lessons, or maybe even inspiration from Federer, who wanted to keep playing and continue but just kept pushing it. You can't fault him for that but ultimately the body just gave out. It's going to be the new parlor game in the sport.

When does Rafa say goodbye and how does he do it? That's obviously been a conversation now for a while in tennis with Serena Williams, Roger Federer, with this generation," Clark said. "We know that the end is closer than the beginning.

So when you have the opportunity to see him on the court, whether he is your favorite player or you really respect him, just savor it," he added.