Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal kicked off their famous rivalry in Miami 2004 when the young Spaniard stunned world no. 1 in straight sets. A year later, the same players were in the final in Florida, with a similar scenario waiting around the corner after Nadal grabbed the opening two sets and a 4-1 advantage in the third. From the verge of the defeat, Federer bounced back to steal the third set and race towards the finish line in the fourth and fifth, lifting the trophy and leaving a teenager empty-handed in his first notable final. Nadal became the second-youngest player in the Masters 1000 final after Michael Chang, and he didn’t have to wait for too long to advance into the second, achieving that a couple of weeks later in Monte Carlo on his beloved clay. In the title clash, Nadal faced a formidable obstacle in the defending champion Guillermo Coria.
The youngster overpowered the Argentine 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 in challenging three hours and nine minutes to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion at 18 years and ten months. After two dominant sets, Nadal lost the ground in the third, throwing it away before opening a 4-1 gap in the fourth for another big step towards the title.
Rafael Nadal claimed his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo 2005.
When Coria pulled the break back and leveled the score at 4-4, Nadal started to think about that recent Federer clash from Miami. Using the experience from that one, a teenager kept his composure and prevailed with a late break in game 12 to move over the top and celebrate his young career’s first notable title.
“This is my best moment in tennis so far, alongside the last year’s Davis Cup. It’s my first big title, and the feeling is unbelievable. I played very well in the opening two sets, especially with my forehand. Then, Guillermo started to play better, and I had to give the third set away. I was also behind in the fourth, and I already started thinking about Miami and the same scenario against Roger Federer. I was scared but managed to come back and win the set 7-5. The experience from that Miami match against Roger helped me a lot. I lost a massive advantage in that one, and that kept me maintaining composure today. My concentration was high when I came back in the fourth set, and it was vital for me to score a win in the end,” Rafael Nadal said.