I the first months of the 2004 season, it seemed the young gun Rafael Nadal was ready to challenge the players from the very top, reaching his first ATP final in Adelaide and beating world no. 1 Roger Federer in Miami in straight sets.
Kicking off the clay season in Estoril, Rafa injured his left ankle against Richard Gasquet, suffering a lot and skipping both Roland Garros and Wimbledon while losing ground and almost 30 places on the ATP ranking list. Starting all over in Bastad in July, Rafa advanced into a couple of quarter-finals on clay before experiencing short campaigns in Canada and Cincinnati, flying back to Europe and winning the first ATP title in Sopot.
Taking some time off, Nadal returned to the US Open where he reached the third round on debut a year ago, defeating Ivo Heuberger in five sets to arrange the meeting with world no. 2 and the defending champion Andy Roddick.
Carried by the home crowd on the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Andy delivered a one-sided 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 triumph in an hour and 36 minutes, leaving the youngster behind after a rock-solid performance on both serve and return. Dealing with an elbow injury, Rafa couldn't do much behind the initial shot, giving serve away seven times and earning only one break to propel the American through into the last 32.
Rafael Nadal compared Roger Federer and Andy Roddick at the US Open 2004.
Having a chance to play against Roger Federer and Andy Roddick within six months, Rafa was asked to compare them after that US Open loss. The Spaniard put Federer in front, describing him as a complete player and saying he possesses all the shots in the book.
Simultaneously, Nadal mentioned that Roddick mainly relies on his powerful serve and forehand, which wasn't enough to compete against the Swiss. Up to that point, Federer scored seven wins in eight encounters over Roddick, beating him in the finals of Wimbledon and Canada Masters that summer.
"Roger Federer and Andy Roddick are very different. For me, Roger Federer is the favorite in that possible match; he has every shot in the book while Roddick relies on power," said Rafael Nadal.