Starting the season from just outside the top-50, Rafael Nadal was ready to show his full potential in the opening months of 2005. The young Spaniard reached the fourth round at the Australian Open and claimed two titles on clay during the American swing, gathering boost for the second Masters 1000 event of the season in Miami.
Playing on a high level, a teenager reached the first final of the Masters 1000 series, dominating against Roger Federer and having a great chance to beat world no. 1 in straight sets. Instead of that, Roger managed to steal the third set, overcoming a massive deficit and having the upper hand in sets four and five to secure the title and leave Rafa empty-handed.
Heading back to Europe, Nadal lost in Valencia's quarter-final, hoping for a better run in Monte Carlo where he didn't play in 2004 due to an injury.
"I performed well in the first set, trying to go forward and playing aggressive tennis. Xavier had his chances in the opening two games but I won them both and grabbed momentum; it was tough for him to stay in touch.
The best thing about my game at the moment is the level of focus. I don't miss too much, staying away from unforced errors. I have to improve my serve a lot and I have been able to do that in the last year. To do that, I have to practice a lot, with confidence as well.
During matches, my serve is fine; I have to work more on it during practice but I'm happy with the improvements. My return is fine and it would be great if I can add more power to my initial shot." Rafael Nadal lost only nine points in eight service games, keeping the initial shot intact and stealing more than a half of the return points for four breaks from as many chances that propelled him over the top.