The young gun Rafael Nadal made the best finish of the 2004 season, defeating world no. 2 Andy Roddick in the Davis Cup final in Seville and helping his country to claim the second trophy in four years. Ready to chase higher ranking positions in 2005, Nadal lost to Ivan Ljubicic in the quarter-final in Doha and had to retire in the first match in Auckland due to breathing troubles, traveling to Melbourne and hoping for a better run on the biggest tennis stage.
The Spaniard felt much better on the Australian Open courts, defeating Julien Benneteau in the first round and prevailing against Mikhail Youzhny in five sets in three hours and 40 minutes to find himself in the last 32. There, the youngster stormed over world no.
283 Bobby Reynolds, beating the American 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in under 90 minutes, advancing into the last 16 at Majors for the first time in a career. Nadal lost 12 points in 12 service games, getting broken once and stealing more than half of the return points for seven breaks from 14 opportunities, staying in front all the time and setting the clash against Lleyton Hewitt for the second time in a row in Melbourne.
In 2004, the Aussie beat the 17-year-old in straight sets, although he had to work hard in two of those, with Nadal reaching tie breaks and showing his quality against a much more experienced opponent. "I'm happy with my current form; the first and second sets today were more than good.
I needed some time to seal the deal at the finish of the third but it all came out nicely for me today. My next rival is Lleyton Hewitt; I lost to him here in Melbourne last year and also in Toronto. It is always tough playing against him but my level is good; I'm in the fourth round.
It is my best result at Grand Slams and it gives me confidence. I will have a chance against Lleyton too if I deliver my best tennis and he stays below his A-game."
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