Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal recall their epic duel - Feels like yesterday

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battled for five-sets in Miami 2005

by Jovica Ilic
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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal recall their epic duel - Feels like yesterday
© Al Bello / Staff - Gety Images Sport

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played an epic Miami Masters final 19 years ago. The Swiss prevailed 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes, overcoming a massive deficit and performing one of his finest comebacks.

Roger and Rafa recalled the duel, joking like it was yesterday, not almost two decades ago. An 18-year-old Nadal had a massive chance to claim his first Masters 1000 title, opening a 4-1 lead in the third set before losing ground, failing to bring the victory home in the closing stages and fading from the court in sets four and five.

Rafa stunned Roger in straight sets in Miami 2004, introducing himself to the tennis world at 17!

Rafael Nadal, Miami 2005© Al Bello / Staff - Getty Images Sport

He became the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist and looked good to notch his second win over Federer from as many duels in Florida.

The Swiss stayed focused in the pivotal moments of the third set, trailing 5-3 in the tie break before extending the battle and taking charge for the rest of the duel, lifting his first Miami trophy and achieving the "Sunshine Double." They stayed close to each other in the shortest and most advanced rallies.

Federer created 13 break points and grabbed seven return games, including the final three. Nadal seized five out of nine break points, earning four return games in the opening two sets and failing to capitalize on his lone break in the third.

Roger faced only one break point after the second set, erasing the deficit and sealing the deal in style. The Swiss lost serve in the first game of the encounter after a loose backhand. The Spaniard cemented the lead with a service winner in game two and earned more break chances at 3-1.

Roger denied them with two winners and held to remain within one break deficit. Nadal held after deuce in game six and made another push on the return in the next one, delivering his second break after Federer's double fault and opening a 5-2 advantage.

The young gun held at love in game eight, wrapping up the opener in style and gathering a boost in his first notable ATP final. Roger played a poor volley at the beginning of the second set, losing serve and falling behind.

World no. 1 stepped in and erased the deficit with a forehand return winner in game two.

Roger Federer, Miami 2005© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal produced a thriller in Miami 2005.

The Swiss produced a quick hold at love in the third game and came from 40-15 down in the next one, delivering a break after the Spaniard's forehand error and moving 3-1 in front.

Roger landed four winners in the fifth game for 4-1 and grabbed the seventh game with a service winner, opening a 5-2 gap. Nadal held after deuce in game eight and landed a forehand return winner in the next one for a break, reducing the gap to 5-4 and prolonging the set.

The young gun played against two set points in the tenth game, denying them and locking the result at 5-5 for more drama. They held at 15 in games 11 and 12, introducing a tie break. Rafa landed two winners for 5-2 and clinched the breaker 7-4 after Roger's forehand error, opening a massive two sets to love advantage.

Rafael Nadal, Miami 2005© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

They held at love at the beginning of the third set, and Nadal landed a smash winner in the third game for 2-1. Nadal fired a backhand crosscourt winner in the fourth game, securing his fifth and last break of serve and moving closer to the finish line.

Rafa saved a break point in the next one and closed it with a service winner, forging a 4-1 advantage and placing one hand on the trophy. Federer held at 15 in game six, reducing the deficit and pulling the break back in the next one after Nadal's costly forehand mistake.

Roger grabbed the eighth game after deuce, leveling the score at 4-4 and earning a break chance in the next one. Rafa denied it with an ace, and they served well in the remaining three games to introduce a tie break. The Swiss missed a forehand in the eighth point, falling 5-3 behind and two points from the exit door.

Federer fired up his forehand in the following two points, locking the result at 5-5 and avoiding match points. Roger rattled off the third point with a smash winner and seized a set point after Rafa's backhand error, reducing the overall deficit to two sets to one.

Nadal lost serve in the fourth game of the fourth set after netting a backhand and did not recover by the end of the duel! Federer secured the fifth game with a service winner, opening a 4-1 advantage and boosting his confidence.

Roger held at 15 in games seven and nine, landing a volley winner at 5-3 and introducing a decider, where he stood as the favorite.

Roger Federer, Miami 2005© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Rafa secured the first game of the fifth set with a service winner and reached deuce on the return in the next one before Roger held for 1-1.

Nadal saved a break point in the third game before Federer converted the second with a forehand winner, moving 2-1 in front and closer to the finish line. Federer cemented the lead with an ace in the fourth game and pushed strong on the return in the next one.

The Swiss broke at 15 to extend the gap and held at 30 a few minutes later for 5-1. The Spaniard faded from the court, suffering the third straight break in game seven and propelling world no. 1 over the top.

Roger Federer Rafael Nadal
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