Miami Flashback: Roger Federer is far behind Rafael Nadal before unthinkable return

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Miami Flashback: Roger Federer is far behind Rafael Nadal before unthinkable return
Miami Flashback: Roger Federer is far behind Rafael Nadal before unthinkable return

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played an incredible match in the 2005 Miami Open final. Roger ousted Rafa 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes in one of the best ATP finals in the last 20 years! Rafa led 6-2, 7-6, 4-1 and moved closer to the finish line when Roger performed one of his finest comebacks and dominated sets four and five to emerge at the top.

A year ago, Nadal defeated Federer in straight sets in Miami, stunning world no. 1 at 17. Twelve months later, Rafa became the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist in Miami and had everything in his hands against a great rival.

The Spaniard stood two points from sealing the deal before the Swiss bounced back and stole the title from him. The Swiss took the third set tie break and played better and better as the match progressed to lift the first Miami Masters and a "Sunshine Double." Roger won seven points more than his rival and was two points away from losing in the third set's tenth game and again in the tie break.

Nadal had a 5-3 advantage and a serve for 6-3 and possible match points, which never happened. Federer won four points in a row to steal the set in a pivotal moment of the encounter. He dropped four games in sets four and five to march toward the finish line and grab the maiden crown in Florida.

Surprisingly, the Spaniard was on the same level as the Swiss in the shortest points. Roger took charge in the mid-range exchanges and stayed in touch in the most extended rallies to earn the triumph. Nadal defended his second serve more efficiently but had to play against 13 break chances.

He got broken on seven occasions, including the match's last three service games. Federer gave serve away five times from nine opportunities (four in the opening set) offered to Nadal. However, he raised his level after the third set, delivering fury from his initial shot and keeping the pressure on the other side.

It was Roger's 18th consecutive triumph in the ATP finals, the 22nd win in a row, and the 48th in the last 49 matches for complete domination over the rest of the field! Nadal made the best start after breaking in the first game when Federer sent a backhand long.

The young gun confirmed the lead with a service winner in game two and settled into a nice rhythm. Federer was still looking for his shots, playing against two more break chances in game five. He saved them with a service winner and another with a volley to avoid an even more significant setback.

The Spaniard was firing on all cylinders, scoring the second break at 4-2 after Federer's double fault and serving for the set in the next game. A hold at love pushed Rafa 6-2 up, looking for more of the same in the rest of the clash in his most significant ATP final in a young career.

Roger Federer prevailed over Rafael Nadal in five sets in the 2005 Miami final.

Things went from bad to worse for world no. 1, who got broken again at the beginning of the second set after a poor volley. Roger reacted quickly and pulled the break back in the next game with a return winner, gaining momentum that drove him towards another break in game four for 3-1.

Roger had a great chance to seal the set with a break in game eight but missed a routine smash that could have cost him dearly had he lost the match. This shot changed everything, and suddenly, Nadal was alive and kicking. Rafa broke back in game nine with a forehand return winner before facing two set points in the next one.

Roger missed an easy volley on the first, and Rafa saved the second to get out of jail and level the score at 5-5. Nadal fired two winners from both wings in the tie break to move 5-2 up. The second set was in his hands when Roger netted a forehand in the 11th point, taking a massive two sets to love lead and standing a set away from his first Masters 1000 crown.

An 18-year-old had the strings of the encounter firmly in his hands after landing a backhand crosscourt winner in the third set's game four that pushed him 3-1 ahead. However, it was the last break point in Roger's games, an essential fact in his outstanding comeback!

Rafa saved a break chance a few minutes later to increase the advantage and come two games away from the triumph. Federer finally found some rhythm on the return to break back in game seven and eliminate the deficit. Looking toward the finish line, Nadal blasted an ace to repel a break opportunity at 4-4, sending the set into a tie break where all the pressure was on Roger, who had no room for errors.

Despite that, Nadal forged a 5-3 lead after Federer's forehand error, who was now two points away from defeat. Keeping his focus high, the Swiss attacked with his forehand to get the mini-break back and avoid facing match points, leveling the score at 5-5 with a brave forehand winner.

Suddenly, his position on the court looked much better, hitting a smash winner for a 6-5 lead and earning the set when Rafa sprayed a backhand error. The Swiss rattled off the last four points to remain in the title chase and gain a boost.

Nadal started to lose ground after missing that one final push that would have sent him over the top. He netted a backhand to drop serve in the fourth set's fourth game, which marked the beginning of his end! Federer sailed through his service games and seized the set with a forehand drive volley winner in game nine for 6-3 and the upcoming decider where he was the clear favorite.

Rafa wasted a game point in the final set's third game, and Roger found a way to break him with a forehand down the line winner that sealed the Spaniard's fate. There was nothing Rafa could do in the return games, and Roger had the upper hand in every segment, creating a 4-1 advantage with another break in game five.

Serving to stay in the match at 1-5, Rafa lost his serve again, and Roger started a massive celebration of what had been one of the most significant wins in his prime years.

Roger Federer Rafael Nadal

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