Rafael Nadal knew: 'Roger Federer is the player to beat at the US Open'

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Rafael Nadal knew: 'Roger Federer is the player to beat at the US Open'

Competing at his third US Open in 2005, Rafael Nadal was ready for a solid campaign after impressive results in the opening eight months. The 19-year-old claimed the first Major crown at Roland Garros and secured three Masters 1000 crowns to become world no.

2 and Roger Federer's closest rival. The Spaniard was yet to find the winning formula at the US Open despite great performances in Miami and Montreal earlier that year, passing two rounds before falling to James Blake in four sets.

After beating Bobby Reynolds and Scoville Jenkins, Nadal tried to advance into the last 16 in New York for the first time, giving his best but falling to Blake 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Rafa played well in the second set and the beginning of the third, but that wasn't enough to keep him safe, losing ground in the pivotal moments to send James through.

The home player stole the rival's serve six times and started all over in set number three to bring the victory safely home. Asked about the favorites, Rafa mentioned Roger Federer as the player to beat, giving him the most chances to defend the crown won a year ago.

The Spaniard predicted the other three semi-finalists, saying that Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi should reach the latter rounds, which they did. Roger beat Lleyton in the semis and ousted the veteran Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 19 minutes for his sixth Major title after just turning 24.

Rafael Nadal backed Roger Federer to win the 2005 US Open title.

Serving at 76%, Federer blasted 44 service winners and had the upper hand with his forehand to control the pace in the rallies and keep the pressure on his rival, especially in sets one and four.

Andre scored three breaks from six opportunities, which wasn't enough for a more favorable result, as he lost 44% of the points in his games and faced no less than 18 break chances, fending off 14 of those and still finishing on the losing side.

Roger prevailed in the third set and stormed over Andre in the fourth to continue where he left in New York 12 months earlier. "Every player has a chance to win the tournament, but for me, Roger Federer is the top favorite.

Lleyton Hewitt also has the opportunity, but he is in the same half as Roger. Andre Agassi also plays well; I give him more chances than Blake," Rafael Nadal said.