In 2005, while still a teenager, Rafael Nadal became one of the world’s leading players. The Spaniard had an incredible run in the Masters 1000 series, winning multiple trophies on clay and hard ground and securing his first Major title at Roland Garros.
After a strong campaign on clay and crowns in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros, Nadal was eliminated early on in Halle and Wimbledon on grass. The youngster returned to winning ways in Bastad and Stuttgart and became world number no.
2 ahead of Montréal. Nadal was the front runner in Canada and one of the players to watch after Roger Federer’s retirement. Rafa got off to a good start with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 win over compatriot and friend Carlos Moya. The youngster had to work hard before enjoying a more relaxed day in the office against Ricardo Mello, whom he defeated 6-1, 6-2 in 66 minutes.
Rafael Nadal reached the final in Montreal in 2005.
In the battle for the quarters, Rafa defeated Sebastien Grosjean 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes. The Spaniard fended off all five break chances, stealing serve once in each set to advance into the last four.
His closest rival was another Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu. He played at a high level this week and did his best against Rafa. A teenager prevailed 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 50 minutes, was broken 5-4 in the second set while serving for the win and quickly recovered to advance into the title match.
They didn’t have many winners. Nadal earned the triumph in the unforced error department after taming his shots more efficiently than his opponent. The Frenchman had a slight lead in the shortest range of up to four strokes.
Rafa made up for that deficit with a better performance in the most extended switches that sent him over the top. The Spaniard broke 1-1 on serve in the opening set and held at love to take a 3-1 lead. The youngster saved two break chances in the sixth game and gave away a set point on the return 5: 3.
Mathieu survived that game before Nadal held at love to end the set in style. A teenager earned a break to make it 2-2 in the second set and served to win in game ten. Instead of sealing the deal, he suffered a love rupture and kept the rival in contention.
Paul-Henri couldn’t build on that, hit two double faults in the 11th game and suffered another break. Rafa emerged at the top in the next after fending off a break chance, reaching his second notable ATP hard-court final and having the title fight against Andre Agassi.