After two decades on the Tour, Rafael Nadal is still among the players to beat. The Spaniard has won 20 Major titles and 36 Masters 1000 trophies to earn the status of one of the greatest players of all time, always giving his best and overcoming numerous setbacks to keep himself in the elite top-10 group. Nadal’s first ATP title came in Sopot in August 2004 at 18, with much higher goals for the following season. Skipping about his main targets in 2005 in Melbourne, Nadal mentioned that he would love to crack the top-15 and finally compete at his first Roland Garros, missing the previous two due to injuries.
In 2003, the Spaniard gained 150 places on the ATP ranking list, earned his first Masters 1000 and Major triumphs and delivered two Challenger titles from six finals to find himself in the top-50. Still, he couldn’t make the Roland Garros debut due to an elbow injury, returning at Wimbledon and becoming one of the youngest players in the third round in the event’s history. A year later, an ankle injury in Estoril in April prevented Rafa’s first trip to Paris, and he was eager to change that in 2005. At the beginning of the season, Nadal reached the Australian Open fourth round after beating Julien Benneteau, Mikhail Youzhny and Bobby Reynolds before giving his 120% against Lleyton Hewitt in a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 loss after three hours and 53 minutes.
Rafael Nadal revealed his season’s goals at the Australian Open 2005.
Hewitt won just two points more than Nadal, who had a clear advantage over the home star in sets two and three, dominating both serve and return and missing a chance to seal the deal in the fourth and oust world no. 3. After the encounter, Nadal said he played on a high level despite finishing on the losing side, hoping to crack the top-20 or top-15 in the rest of the season and finally make the Roland Garros debut. As we all know, the Spaniard achieved both goals and plenty more, winning 79 out of 89 encounters and adding 11 titles to his tally for one of the greatest seasons for a teenager in tennis history.
“My mission is to finally play at the French Open and crack the top-20 or top-15 this season,” Rafael Nadal said.