Rafael Nadal stunned the newly-crowned world no. 1 Roger Federer in Miami 2004, securing a notable victory at 17 and feeling hungry for more in the upcoming years! The 16-year-old Nadal kicked off the 2003 season from inside the top-200, skipping his junior duties and focusing on the professional circuit.
The Spaniard rapidly improved his position on the list after advancing into four Challenger finals in the opening three months, winning his first crown in Barletta. Ready to present his skills on a higher level, Rafa reached the third round at the Monte Carlo Masters as a qualifier and repeated that in Hamburg and Wimbledon.
A teenager backed those results with more good runs on clay in July, including his first ATP semi-final in Umag. The youngster had to slow down a bit for the rest of the year due to injuries, returning stronger in 2004. Rafa advanced to his first ATP final in Auckland before reaching the Australian Open third round, losing to Lleyton Hewitt after giving his best in sets one and two.
Following his first Davis Cup triumph for Spain and a couple more wins, Nadal cracked the top-40 and gained momentum ahead of Miami. The world's most promising youngster revealed his full potential in Florida. He ousted world no.
1 Roger Federer in grand style, scoring a 6-3, 6-3 win in just 70 minutes!
Rafael Nadal was ready to reach the top after beating Roger Federer in 2004.
It was a brilliant proof of Nadal's progress in the previous couple of years.
Rafa improved his serve and developed an aggressive approach paired with an out-of-this-world defense already good enough to challenge any Tour player. The youngster lost 12 points in nine service games, sailing behind the initial shot and mounting the pressure on the other side.
Roger could not follow that pace, suffering three breaks and trailing 31-12 in the more extended exchanges to propel Rafa over the top. Pleased with his performance, Nadal said he felt he belonged at the top. A teenager felt eager to raise his level and improve all the elements en route to becoming one of the world's best players in the upcoming years.
"I have more confidence in comparison to the previous season. I can play at this level and belong in the ATP rankings' top tier. I have raised my game, and I can reach the top. Physically, it would be fine for me to repeat this kind of performance at Majors, as I have already won matches at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open," Rafael Nadal said.
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