'Roger Federer played as if he came from...', says former ATP star
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 5965
Rafael Nadal became a teenager to watch in 2003, making a strong start to the season and breaking into the top-50 after an incredible mix of results at the Challenger and on the ATP Tour. A year later, Nadal was eager to challenge his rivals from the top.
He lost to Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open before facing newly crowned No. 1 Roger Federer in Miami. The 17-year-old stunned the king of tennis 6-3 6-3 in the third round in 70 minutes to steal all the headlines. Roger claimed the Indian Wells crown the week before.
He didn't have enough time to recover for Miami, feeling signs of illness and fever, and he never looked well on the court. Even so, nothing should be detracted from Nadal's triumph, that he played without any sign of nerves and did almost everything well on court.
Rafa did a lot of damage with his topspin forehands that bounced high and took time away from Federer's shots, preventing the Swiss from settling into his usual rhythm. The Spaniard's defense was already one of the best, building a fortress around the back line that was almost impossible to penetrate.
But he didn't just rely on that, he attacked whenever he could and played well-constructed points at the net. Nadal had a bit of trouble with his backhand, but that couldn't hurt him much as Federer played below his level. Nadal's serve gave him a considerable advantage, as he never faced a breaking opportunity or a deuce and created space to play more aggressively on the return.
Rafa served 81% and won 31 of 39 points after conceding the first serve, impressive numbers for a player whose serve was not his main weapon. Nadal's second serve worked like a charm, although he only played nine points on a weaker serve.
Tommy Haas speaks about Federer
As part of an interview given to our colleagues from Eurosport Germany, Tommy Haas, who is close to Roger Federer, reminded us that Roger had human qualities well above average. “Roger is an incredible guy, on and off the court, as a friend, as a father, as a man.
With him, we always have fun. He has a wonderful outlook on life and it's wonderful to spend time with people like him. It's amazing what Roger has accomplished, for so long and so consistently. He played as if he came from another planet, it was the period from 2004 to 2006."