In 2004, Rafael Nadal stunned the newly-crowned world no. 1 Roger Federer in straight sets in Miami, announcing his arrival on the most significant scene at 17. In the next 12 months, the young Spaniard claimed his first ATP title and the Davis Cup crown for Spain. Rafa played well at the beginning of 2005 and won back-to-back trophies on clay before skipping Indian Wells due to sickness. The Spaniard returned in Miami and continued where he left in Brazil and Mexico to reach the first Masters 1000 semi-final. Nadal took down his compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 31 minutes to avenge a tough Stuttgart loss from last summer and move into his third ATP final. Rafa also became the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang in 1990, seeking the first title at the premium ATP level. Serving at 69%, Nadal lost 17 points in nine service games against Ferrer, losing serve once and keeping the pressure on the other side. David couldn’t match those numbers and got broken four times from six opportunities offered to Nadal to end his run in the semis. The younger Spaniard controlled his shots more efficiently, dictating the pace from the baseline and counting his rival’s numerous mistakes to seal the deal in style.
Rafael Nadal reached the first Masters 1000 final in Miami 2005.
Ferrer was 11-8 in front in service winners, but that wasn’t enough to make the difference and make him more competitive. Nadal forged a 17-10 difference in the winners from the field, firing seven from forehand and backhand each and allowing David to land only four forehand winners. The unforced errors were the crucial element of this clash, as David sprayed over 30, 21 from the forehand that let him down completely, often in the critical moments. Rafa stayed on 18 unforced errors and hit more forced mistakes (13-7), which didn’t hurt him much. The youngster was 31-27 in front in the quickest rallies up to four strokes, and they split the mid-range exchanges after taking 16 each. Nadal earned the triumph in the segment of the most extended points, taking 21 out of 30 to set the final clash, where he hoped to face Roger Federer.
“I was 17 when I faced Roger Federer here in Miami last year, and it was one of my best matches. Since then, I have improved my serve and groundstrokes, but that remains one of my finest displays. I played on an unbelievable level, and I hope to meet him again in the final and show my improvements. I will have a chance if I bring my best tennis and Federer doesn’t; if we both compete at our best, he will win, as he is world no. 1,” Rafael Nadal said.