Due to injuries, Rafael Nadal was unable to advance up the ATP list in 2004, skipping three months and still winning the first ATP title in Sopot in August. At the end of the year, the youngster delivered an important point for Spain over the United States in the Davis Cup final in Seville and gained momentum ahead of 2005.
Nadal didn’t play to his best in Doha and Auckland, fixing that at the Australian Open, where he advanced to the fourth round at Majors for the first time. Rafa lost to Lleyton Hewitt in five sets and gained momentum ahead of the South American clay tour, where he lifted crowns in Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco.
Illness prevented Rafa from competing in Indian Wells, and he headed to Miami on the brink of the top-30. The Spaniard showed his best tennis in Florida to reach the final where he astonished world no.1, Roger Federer, a year ago.
Rafa defeated Rainer Schuettler, Fernando Verdasco, Ivan Ljubicic, Thomas Johansson and David Ferrer to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 finalist after Michael Chang and set up another clash with Federer in the quest for the first notable title.
After an incredible battle, Roger prevailed 2-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-1 in three hours and 43 minutes, producing one of his best comebacks since. to be losing two sets to nil and 4-1 in the third! The Swiss took the third set tie break 5-3 down and never looked back for the rest of the clash, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net and sealing the deal in style in the decider.
Nadal came within two points of victory at 5-4 in the third set and again in the tie break, unable to make that final push and beat Roger for the second year in a row in Miami.
Rafa Nadal will play the Canadian Open
John McEnroe has hailed Rafael Nadal as the greatest fighter in the history of the game, as he suggested youngsters need to look to the Spaniard as an example of what it takes to be a champion.
“I’ve never seen anyone like him,” McEnroe told Tennis365 in an exclusive interview. “I thought Jimmy Connors tried hard until I saw Rafael Nadal, this is insane. And that’s the greatest quality he has, by far.
I mean, the guy’s an unbelievable player, we all know that. But the fact that he can go out there and give that type of effort, you know, match in and match out, game in and game out, is something that people aspire to, but it’s very difficult to do.
Otherwise, everyone would do it. I mean, you just say, well go to Nick Kyrgios and say ‘go out and give an effort, you’ll be No 2, No 3 in the world. Well, if it was that easy, I guess he would do it. But you know, for him, it isn’t”.
Source By Tennisworld