Eager to improve his ranking position as soon as possible, Rafael Nadal was ready to rumble right from the start of the 2005 season. The young Spaniard reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, followed by two ATP titles on his beloved clay in Brazil and Mexico.
Rafa earned enough points to almost secure the place in the top-30 ahead of Miami where he played on a high level again, becoming the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang. Despite being two points away from victory, Nadal lost to Roger Federer in thrilling five sets, seeking his first Masters 1000 title a few weeks later in Monte Carlo.
Two years after making a debut in the Principality at the age of 16, Nadal was one of the title favorites, playing well from the first round and advancing into another notable final following a tough 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Richard Gasquet.
The Frenchman qualified for the main draw and toppled some big names to reach the semis, fending off three match points against Roger Federer in the quarters and having a set and a break advantage against Nadal.
"I'm happy to reach the second consecutive Masters final and more places gained on the ATP ranking list. Gasquet has played on a high level in the last couple of weeks, winning two Challengers and qualifying for the main draw here to beat Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko and Felix Mantilla.
I'm thrilled to defeat him and reaching the final. It was tough in the first set, especially after wasting 5-4 and 6-5 lead. He even had an early advantage in the second set before starting to miss some balls, allowing me to bounce back and turn the scoreboard into my favor.
Richard was a bit tired in the deciding set, and the momentum was on my side of the court." Rafael Nadal wasted a 5-4 and 6-5 lead in the opener, losing it in the tie break and finding himself 2-0 down in the second set before bouncing back to win it 6-4 and overpower Richard in the decider to set the clash against Guillermo Coria.