Entering the season from just outside the top-50, Rafael Nadal became the second-strongest link in men's tennis in 2005. The young Spaniard won two titles on clay in February, reaching another final at the Masters 1000 event in Miami and losing to Roger Federer in thrilling five sets.
A teenager was on a fantastic streak from Monte Carlo, rattling off four straight titles and passing one rival after another on the ATP ranking list. With two Masters 1000 crowns and a Major on his tally, Nadal became world no.
3 after Roland Garros, experiencing short campaign on grass in Halle and Wimbledon before returning to his beloved clay in Bastad and Stuttgart. Rafa extended his winning streak on the slowest surface to add a couple of trophies to his cabinet, standing as world no.
2 ahead of Montreal, where he was the top seed. Taking a well-deserved rest before Canada, Nadal was among the players to beat in the quest for his first notable title on hard court, kicking off the campaign against his countryman and friend Carlos Moya.
Rafa defeated Carlos 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes.
Despite facing only one break point and never losing serve, Nadal had to work hard to secure the triumph, wasting 13 out of 15 break opportunities and failing to win a point in the second set tie break.
Starting all over, the youngster grabbed a break in the decisive set to find himself over the top. After the match, Nadal said he felt pressure in Paris, which wasn't the case in Montreal despite being the top seed and among the title favorites.
"Carlos Moya is a good player; I knew it wouldn't be easy. I had a lot of chances in sets two and three, unable to convert many of those and finish the job earlier. We always practice together in Mallorca and he is my best friend on the Tour.
It was vital for me to work with the top-10 player as a junior. I'm usually excellent on converting break chances but that didn't work today; Carlos served well while facing break chances. I wasn't aggressive enough, seizing only two opportunities as I didn't put him under enough pressure.
I don't feel the pressure as the top seed; I always want to win all the matches at every tournament. I felt the pressure at Roland Garros, not here in Canada. The first match is never easy and I'm happy with the way I played.
Carlos and I shared the plane, and we knew we are set to play in the first round. Early wins give you confidence and it should help me in the next encounters," Rafael Nadal said.