After winning the Davis Cup title with his teammates at the end of the previous season, Rafael Nadal was ready for more of the same in 2005, chasing notable titles and high ranking positions. After suffering a tight Australian Open loss against Lleyton Hewitt, Nadal went to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to compete on his beloved clay, winning back-to-back titles in Costa Do Sauipe and Acapulco and finding himself on the verge of the top-30.
The youngster had to skip Indian Wells due to illness, returning in Miami and beating Rainer Schuettler, Fernando Verdasco and Ivan Ljubicic to find himself in the first Masters 1000 quarter-final at 18.
Rafael Nadal reached the first Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami 2005, still at 18.
There, Rafa proved to be too strong for world no.
27 Thomas Johansson, ousting the Swede 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes for the place in the last four, becoming the second-youngest Masters 1000 semi-finalist after Michael Chang. Like against Ljubicic, Nadal had the upper hand behind the initial shot, facing only one break point and earning four return games to control the scoreboard and set the clash against another Spaniard David Ferrer.
After the match, Nadal said he feels very comfortable on the court, serving well and doing everything right from the baseline, hoping for more of the same against David as well. "I feel very comfortable at the moment; I used passing shots, topspin and high balls to impose my strokes.
Of course, I like clay, but I'm playing well on hard, too, reaching the final in Auckland last year. I have been sick for a while and couldn't prepare for Miami in the way I wanted. After Miami, I will play Valencia, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Hamburg and Roland Garros; if I stay injury-free, I will embrace the full clay-court swing.
In my last match against David Ferrer in Stuttgart last year, I returned after an injury without too much energy left. Everything is different now, and anything can happen in the next round," Rafael Nadal said.