Battling injuries, Rafael Nadal failed to advance in the ATP rankings in 2004, despite winning his first ATP title. The youngster was ready to show his true colors in 2005, reaching the first Masters 1000 final in Miami and barely missing a chance to beat Roger Federer in straight sets.
The Swiss prevailed after a great duel and Nadal instantly put defeat behind him, preparing for his beloved clay. Playing in Valencia and the following week, Rafa lost in the quarterfinals and took a few days off heading into Monte Carlo, returning to the Principality for the first time since 2003 when he reached the third round at age 16.
Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus had no chance against the Spaniard, who put on another superb performance to defeat defending Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio 6-3, 6-0 for a place in the semi-finals. Rafa had to work harder in the next match, beating Richard Gasquet 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 after being a set and a break to reach the second consecutive Masters 1000 final.
After three hours and Nine minutes, Nadal beat defending champion Guillermo Coria 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion at 18 years and ten months. The youngster had the advantage in sets one and two, dictating the rallies with his right hand and holding his own on the lap to build a huge advantage.
Coria rallied in set number three to deliver a bagel and erased a 4-1 deficit in set number four before propelling Nadal to the top after a late break for the Spaniard.
Uncle Toni talks about Rafa
Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni has played a huge role in the Spaniard’s rise into one of the greatest players of all time.
Uncle Toni coached Rafael Nadal right from the latter’s childhood until 2017, overseeing 14 Grand Slam titles and numerous other milestones. “For years I made him train in bad conditions and with balls in bad conditions,” Toni Nadal was quoted as saying by MARCA.
“Sometimes I told him that we were going to train for an hour and a half and then would extend the training indefinitely. All my life I had the obsession to prepare Rafa for difficulty. (He had to) learn to strengthen his character,” the 60-year-old added.
The 60-year-old, who is currently heading the Rafa Nadal structure in Mallorca, also said that an athlete’s biggest asset is faith in their own abilities. “When you lose faith, it is time to quit,” he said. “In life one must have goals, one must have illusions and it does not have to frustrate him not to achieve them.”
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