Young Rafael Nadal Leaves It All on the Court, Finds Silver Lining in Loss

Rafael Nadal experienced a tight loss to Lleyton Hewitt at the 2005 Australian Open

by Jovica Ilic
Young Rafael Nadal Leaves It All on the Court, Finds Silver Lining in Loss

Rafael Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt met twice at the Australian Open in 2004 and 2005. The Aussie scored both wins but had to work hard in the second duel, prevailing 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 in three hours and 53 minutes. Nadal had his chances to defeat the home favorite, overpowering world no.

3 in sets two and three and missing an opportunity to seal the deal in the fourth. The young Spaniard was pleased with his performance, hoping for much more in the rest of the season. Rafa finished the previous season with the Davis Cup title at 18, setting his eyes on high goals in 2005.

Nadal lost the Doah quarter-final to Ivan Ljubicic and retired in Auckland due to breathing issues. The youngster made a great start at the Australian Open against Julien Benneteau before surviving a stern Mikhail Youzhny test in five sets to enter the last 32.

Rafael Nadal lost a tight clash vs. Hewitt at the 2005 Australian Open.

Bobby Reynolds could only do a little against the world's most promising youngster. Nadal lost only five games and sealed the deal in under 90 minutes to preserve energy for the long-awaited clash against Lleyton Hewitt at Rod Laver Arena.

Hewitt won just two points more than Nadal, who ruled the court in sets two and three. In the end, Lleyton survived all the challenges in the fourth set to secure it in the tie break, leaving the youngster with nothing left in the tank in the decider.

Rafa grabbed five breaks and Lleyton responded with six. The Aussie delivered his best tennis in the tie break where he had no room for errors and used that momentum to race through a decider, leaving a teenager empty-handed.

"I do not think I ran out of gas in the fourth set; that happened in the fifth as I had problems with cramps. I had my chances in the fourth, standing at 30-15 on the return several times. I did not play badly in the crucial moments, but Lleyton played them better, so he won.

I was close to the finish line in the fourth, and once I missed that, there was no way for me to return 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 one before.

Still, I'm happy with how I performed, staying in touch for four sets and having my chances to beat world no. 3. If I maintain this level, I can achieve some big things this year. Lleyton and I are not that similar; I think I'm attacking more, and he has a much better serve," Rafael Nadal said.

Rafael Nadal Lleyton Hewitt Australian Open