Winning the Davis Cup title with his teammates at the end of the previous season, Rafael Nadal was ready for more of the same in 2005, chasing big titles and high ranking positions. After suffering a tight loss in Melbourne against Lleyton Hewitt, Nadal went to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to compete on his beloved clay, winning back-to-back titles in Costa Do Sauipe and Acapulco to find himself on the verge of the top-30.
The youngster had to skip Indian Wells due to illness, returning in Miami and beating Rainer Schuettler, Fernando Verdasco and Ivan Ljubicic to find himself in the first Masters 1000 quarter-final at 18. There, Rafa proved to be too strong for world no.
27 Thomas Johansson, ousting the Swede 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes for the place in the last four. Just like against Ljubicic, Nadal had the upper hand behind the initial shot, facing only one break point and earning four return games to control the scoreboard and set the clash against another Spaniard David Ferrer.
After the match, Nadal said he is feeling very comfortable on the court, serving well and doing everything right from the baseline, hoping for more of the same against David as well. "I feel very comfortable at the moment; I used passing shots, topspin and high balls to impose my strokes.
Of course, I like clay but I'm playing well on hard too, reaching the final in Auckland last year. I have been sick for a while and couldn't prepare for Miami in the way I wanted. After Miami, I will play Valencia, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Hamburg and Roland Garros; if I stay injury-free, I will embrace the full clay-court swing.
In my last match against David Ferrer in Stuttgart last year, I just came back after an injury, without too much energy left. Everything is different now and anything can happen in the next round."