Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal started their incredible rivalry on March 28, 2004, when the 17-year-old Spaniard took down world no. 1 in straight sets in Miami. Twelve months later, they reached the final in Miami, and Roger prevailed 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes after a titanic battle and one of the best ATP finals in the previous two decades!
It was the first Masters 1000 final for an 18-year-old Nadal, who became the second-youngest finalist at this series after Michael Chang. A teenager had everything in his hands until the middle of the third set, leading 6-2, 7-6, 4-1 before Roger started one of the career-best comebacks to cross the finish line first.
The Swiss took the third set tie break and played better and better as the match progressed to lift the first Miami Masters and also a "Sunshine Double," winning Indian Wells two weeks earlier. Roger won just seven points more than his rival and was two points away from losing in the tenth game of the third set and the tie break where Nadal had a 5-3 advantage and a serve for 6-3 and possible match points, which never happened.
Federer won four points in a row to steal the set in a pivotal moment of the entire encounter, dropping just four games in sets four and five to march towards the finish line and grab the maiden crown in Florida. Surprisingly, the Spaniard was on the same level as the Swiss in the shortest points.
At the same time, Roger took charge in the mid-range exchanges and stayed in touch in the longest rallies that earned the triumph for him in the end against an incredible baseliner.
Rafael Nadal lost tight final against Roger Federer in Miami 2005.
Nadal defended his second serve more efficiently but had to play against 13 break chances, getting broken on seven occasions, including the match's last three service games.
Federer gave serve away five times from nine opportunities (four in the opening set alone) offered to Nadal. However, we have to say that he raised his level after the third set significantly, delivering fury from the initial shot and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net.
It was the 18th consecutive triumph for Roger in the ATP finals and the 22nd victory in a row, the 48th in the last 49 matches for complete domination over the rest of the men's field! "I'm happy with the way I played; I'm improving.
I led two sets to love and was 4-1 up in the third, with that umpire's wrong call in the eighth game, as Federer's forehand landed long. I'm satisfied with my tennis, but not with the outcome. I lost my power in sets four and five after playing with high confidence in the third, standing so close to the finish line.
Still, Roger showed why he is world no. 1, performing better in the crucial moments and marching towards the win with an early break in the decider. I was surprised to see Federer throwing his racquet, and I thought I was close to victory at that moment.
Roger is the player who goes for the shots and makes mistakes; still, when it matters the most, he would find his best shots."