Rafael Nadal arrived in Madrid on Thursday, entering the season's third Masters 1000 event as the top seed and the favorite. Rafa trained at Caja Magica on Friday, preparing for his first match that should come against the young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday.
Nadal will have to work hard to reach another final at the home Masters 1000 event, facing Jannik Sinner, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem in his half of the draw. On Thursday night, Rafa joined the tournament director Feliciano Lopez and discussed various issues.
Asked about his favorite Madrid Open moment, Nadal picked that incredible 2005 final against Ivan Ljubicic when he came from two sets to love down in front of the home fans to lift already the fourth Masters 1000 title of the season, still at 19!
A teenager had a memorable season, competing in five Masters 1000 finals and lifting the first Major trophy at Roland Garros a few days after the 19th birthday.
Rafael Nadal mentioned the Madrid 2005 final as his finest memory from that event.
Rafa became world no.
2 a few weeks later, establishing himself as Roger Federer's greatest rival and finishing the season with 11 trophies on his tally, just like the Swiss. In Madrid, Nadal had to perform one of his finest comebacks ever to lift the trophy, prevailing over Ljubicic 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 after three hours and 53 minutes.
The Spaniard won nine points less than his opponent, but he still did enough to erase the deficit and cross the finish line first in thrilling closing stages to give the home crowd something to cheer about and write his finest Madrid memories.
"My most cherished Madrid Open memory goes back to 2005 when I won the first title. It was the final, but it wasn't on clay. It was an unforgettable match, so exciting; I remember the fans were incredible. The match cost me a few months of my career.
I broke my foot, but it was worth it. It was worth the emotion I experienced; they made it impossible to forget. The next day I woke up and I was limping, I couldn't walk. The fans were very close, and as it was indoors, it was louder. It was amazing to win at home in that way; also, I was just a kid," Rafael Nadal said.