Kicking off the season from just outside the top-50, Rafael Nadal was among the players to beat in the opening months of 2005. An 18-year-old lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round at the Australian Open, winning Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco on beloved clay and standing two points from beating world no.
1 Roger Federer in the final in Miami. The Swiss won that one in five thrilling sets and Rafa was back on beloved clay in Valencia and Monte Carlo. Igor Andreev proved to be too strong in the Spanish tournament and Nadal went to Monte Carlo eager to play on a higher level and make a deep run.
In the first match, he toppled Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes, dominating on the return top leave his coeval behind and advance into the second round.
Monfils grabbed two breaks from six opportunities and that wasn't enough to keep him safe, losing pace in the more extended exchanges and giving serve away five times to propel Nadal through.
"It wasn't an easy match, Monfils plays well. He is confident after beating Gaudio in Australia and a good run in Miami. It is his first year on the Tour and everything is positive; it doesn't matter if you lose often.
I went through that myself and it becomes more difficult after two or three years. Monfils plays inconsistent tennis. His game is not well-defined, sometimes he is defending and sometimes he attacks. It wasn't easy to play against him but I was more solid than him.
I felt good physically, especially in longer points. He got a bit tired in the second set and I brought the victory home." After the match, Rafael Nadal said that Monfils has to find a better balance between offensive tennis and defense, making a lot of errors and not being able to control his strokes.