Despite the fact he couldn't make any progress through the ATP list in 2004 due to injuries, Rafael Nadal was still the young gun to beat at the beginning of 2005. Nadal reached the Australian Open fourth round, losing to Lleyton Hewitt in five sets and missing a chance to defeat the Aussie in four.
After that, Rafa claimed two ATP titles on clay in South America, skipped Indian Wells and returned in Miami, where he proved his abilities again. The Spaniard advanced to the biggest final of his young career in Florida, playing on a high level and standing two points away from beating world no.
1 Roger Federer in straight sets. Federer remained composed, though, overcoming a 4-1 deficit in the third set and stealing the tie break to gain a massive boost before dominating in sets four and five to secure the title and leave the youngster empty-handed.
Rafael Nadal played well in Miami and Monte Carlo 2005.
With no time to rest, Rafa went to Valencia, where he lost to Igor Andreev in the quarters and took a few days off, hoping for a better run in Monte Carlo. Missing the season's first clay Masters 1000 event due to an injury in 2004, Nadal made a winning return a year later, beating Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes.
Nadal controlled the more extended rallies' pace, delivered five breaks and moved into the next round to face Xavier Malisse. Rafa got broken twice and had the upper hand on the return to grab five breaks and seal the deal in under an hour and a half.
The Spaniard was the more successful player in the more extended exchanges, forcing Monfils to run a lot and get tired in set number two. "I had an impressive start of the year, playing a lot and getting a bit tired. I played well against Federer in Miami, and this tournament is important for me as well.
The pressure is on me, and this is the most significant event of the season for me. Still, I don't feel like the title favorite. Two years ago, I was 16 and just wanted to win a match here. It is different this time, and every victory counts.
For me, Monte Carlo favorites are Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Carlos Moya, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Roger Federer; I'm not playing well enough. I played well today, but I still have to improve my game and ranking," Rafael Nadal said.