In Rafael Nadal's words: 'I started to think about that Roger Federer match..'



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In Rafael Nadal's words: 'I started to think about that Roger Federer match..'

In Miami 2005, an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal was two points away from beating Roger Federer in straight sets in the title match, becoming the second-youngest player in the final of the Masters 1000 series. Despite winning the opening two sets and a lead in the third, Nadal would eventually lose in five, squandering his chances and allowing Roger to dominate in the closing stages, avenging the loss to Rafa from a year ago.

A few weeks later, Nadal would advance to another final at the premium ATP level in Monte Carlo, chasing his first notable crown, still as a teenager. After four commanding victories, Rafa had to work hard against Richard Gasquet in the semis, prevailing in three sets and moving closer to his goal.

In the final, Nadal faced the defending champion Guillermo Coria and claimed a 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 victory in three hours and nine minutes to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion at the age of 18 years and ten months.

Just like against Federer in Miami, Nadal had the upper hand in the opening two sets, dropping only four games before Coria raised his game in the third, earning a bagel and erasing a massive deficit in the fourth set to stay alive.

"Yeah, this is my best moment in tennis so far, alongside the Davis Cup. It's my first big title and the feeling is unbelievable. I played very well in the opening two sets, especially with my forehand. Then, Guillermo started to play better and I had to give the third set away.

In the fourth, I was also way behind and I already started thinking about Miami and the same scenario against Roger Federer. I was scared but managed to come back and win the set 7-5. I didn't miss too many balls this week.

My groundstrokes worked well and I improved my serve after beating Gael Monfils in the first round." With that Florida match on his mind, Rafael Nadal stayed focused and worked his way back to the scoreboard, taking the fourth set 7-5 to seal the deal and celebrate the crown.