Indian Wells Flashback: Young Rafael Nadal sits in Roger Federer's box

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Indian Wells Flashback: Young Rafael Nadal sits in Roger Federer's box

The 17-year-old Rafael Nadal made his Indian Wells debut in 2004. Rafa won two matches and lost a thriller against Agustin Calleri in the third round. Also, the young gun joined forces with Tommy Robredo and faced world no.

1 Roger Federer for the first time in the doubles encounter! The future legends and fearsome rivals exchanged nice words at the net and in the locker room. One thing led to another, and Roger invited Rafa to attend his quarter-final singles match against Juan Ignacio Chela.

The Spaniard was more than willing to accept that. He joined Mirka in Roger's box and acknowledged the Swiss' performance after he toppled the Argentine 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and three minutes.

Rafael Nadal sat alongside Mirka during Roger's 2004 Indian Wells match.

Federer lost serve once and stole almost 60% of the return points to forge the difference.

The Swiss broke Chela five times from nine chances to control the scoreboard and race into the last four for the first time in the desert. They exchanged breaks in the early stage of the clash, and Roger grabbed another in the fifth game following the rival's forehand error.

The world's leading player fired a return winner for another break at 5-2 that wrapped up the set for him. The Wimbledon and Australian Open champion scored another break in the second set's second game, controlling the scoreboard and racing into a 5-0 advantage in no time.

Federer moved over the top with a hold at 15 in game seven to book a place in the semi-final. Getting some first-row tips, Nadal knew how to challenge exhausted Federer in Miami two weeks later. Rafa ousted Roger 6-3, 6-3 in 70 minutes to kick off one of the greatest rivalries in the sport with a well-deserved victory, as he did in the doubles in Indian Wells.

A teenager became the youngest player to beat world no. 1 since the start of the ATP Tour in 1990, holding everything under control in his games and keeping the pressure on the other side. Serving at 81%, Rafa never experienced deuce or a break point in his games.

He delivered three breaks that carried him over the top and into the last 16 on his Miami debut. Eighteen years later, Nadal and Federer shared the court for the final time at the 2022 Laver Cup, with the Swiss choosing the Spaniard to join him in his last career match.

Indian Wells Rafael Nadal Roger Federer