In the 2005 year-end rankings, Spain had four players in the top-20, led by the 19-year-old Rafael Nadal. After two notable seasons in 2003 and 2004, Nadal showed his true colors in 2005, winning 11 ATP titles to follow Roger Federer's numbers and finishing inside the top-2, right behind the Swiss.
A teenager won 79 out of 89 matches that year and played in no less than 15 quarter-finals from 21 tournaments! A few days after turning 19, Rafa claimed the first Major crown at Roland Garros and added four Masters 1000 trophies to his tally to complete one of the greatest seasons for teenagers in tennis history.
After losing in the US Open third round, Nadal won the title in Beijing and led his country against Italy in the Davis Cup. The youngster had to withdraw from Vienna due to knee issues, and there was a massive question mark above his Madrid Masters participation.
Nadal confirmed that he struggled with knee tendonitis in the pre-event press conference, doing an MRI and still preparing to compete in front of the home fans. Eager to compete at his best in front of the home fans, Rafa defeated Victor Hanescu and Tommy Robredo (another year-end top-20 player) to find himself in the quarter-final at the penultimate Masters 1000 event of the season.
Nadal stole Robredo's serve four times to control the scoreboard and advance into the last eight. Feeling no pain in his knee, Nadal pushed hard from start to finish to secure the 76th victory of the season and remain on the title course.
Rafael Nadal praised his compatriot David Ferrer in 2005.
Asked about another Spaniard, David Ferrer, Rafa said that his compatriot also deserves the newspapers headlines after a notable season that carried him into the top-15 after starting the season barely inside the top-50.
Ferrer played a massive number of tournaments in 2005, reaching the semi-final in Miami and Rome and the Roland Garros quarter-final, losing all those encounters to Rafa. Nadal and Ferrer could face faced in the Madrid semi-final, but Robby Ginepri defeated David in the last eight.
"Maybe I have been in newspapers constantly this year because of my results. Still, David Ferrer has also had an incredible season, playing at a very high level in Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome and Roland Garros. He is also a very experienced player that could be in the top-10.
Let's hope he wins Paris. I agree with you that we could hear about him a lot more than we do," Rafael Nadal said.