On April 3, 2005, Rafael Nadal had not yet won Roland Garros, the first of his, at the moment, thirteen times, was a few months later, but the then very young Manacor player did know what it was like to defeat Roger Federer, number one in the world.
He had done it in the quarterfinals of the Miami Masters 1,000 in 2004 (6-4 and 6-4), surprising the Swiss, who was on warning when a year later he met the same rival, but in the final. At that time they did not know that this was going to be a historic match: the first final of the most important rivalry in the world of tennis.
And despite what had happened the previous year, Rafa started again commanding before the one who was the dominator of the circuit. He prevailed in the first two sets and ended up losing 2-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 and 6-1.
Nadal was two points away from the victory. “I was not surprised because I know what a good player he is. I'm the big favorite in every game I play and it even seems crazy when I lose sets. So today I have seen the danger that Nadal represents.
It was like that until the end of the match," explained Federer, in statements collected by the ATP website. In a recent interview with Santander, Nadal expressed his desire to be fully ready for the claycourt season, adding that it is the 'most important time of the year' for him.
Nadal expresses his desire to be fully ready for the claycourt season
"I want to be competitive and well-prepared heading into Monte Carlo and the whole clay-court swing which is the most important time of the year for me," Rafael Nadal said.
"I am working very hard for that." Despite occasionally witnessing crowds, tennis has largely been a spectator-free sport during the ongoing pandemic. In that context, Rafael Nadal revealed that he finds it 'sad' to play in a lifeless atmosphere.
The Mallorcan did, however, express hope of normal service to resume once the global vaccination drives begin to take effect. "It's sad to play without that extra energy," Nadal said. "It's strange, especially for us older players who used to travel with family and many other people.
Let's hope that thanks to vaccines there will be a normal situation again." Rafael Nadal revealed that his uncle Toni quit his duties only because the constant traveling had taken a toll on him. "I have been having the same team since I was 15 years old," Nadal said. "Uncle Toni left because he was tired of traveling. I trust them a lot."