Rafael Nadal on his first victory over Roger Federer: ‘It was a perfect match’


Rafael Nadal was nonetheless 17 when the 2004 season kicked off, reaching his first ATP last in Adelaide. Following his first Davis Cup victory and the third spherical in Indian Wells, Rafa was hungry for extra in Miami. The teenager defeated a former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic within the second spherical and arrange a gathering with the newly-crowned world no.

1 Roger Federer on March 28. At 17 years, 9 months and 25 days, Nadal scored a sensational 6-3, 6-3 triumph in swift 70 minutes to turn out to be the youngest participant with a win over world no. 1 participant because the formation of the ATP Tour in 1990.

Regardless of the younger Spaniard’s evident expertise and iron will, nobody might have predicted this consequence, not towards the participant who conquered the Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells and misplaced only one match thus far that season!

Every week earlier than, Roger claimed the Indian Wells title and had solely a few days to get well bodily and prepare for Miami, feeling signs of sickness and fever and by no means trying good on the courtroom towards Rafa. The Swiss barely survived a problem from Nikolay Davydenko within the earlier spherical and had nothing left within the tank for the younger Spaniard, bowing out in straight units and sending a young person into the final 16.

We should always not take something from Nadal’s triumph, although, as he delivered a powerful victory after taking part in with no indicators of nerves. Rafa did large harm together with his topspin forehands that bounced excessive and took day off from Federer’s pictures, conserving the opponent out of the consolation zone and drawing many errors from his rival.

The Spaniard’s protection was already on a excessive degree, constructing a fortress across the baseline that was nearly not possible to penetrate, even for a high-quality attacker like Roger. He didn’t lean solely on that, although, attacking at any time when he might and taking part in some well-constructed factors on the web to combine the pictures properly, preserve the rallies on his racquet and by no means permit Federer to step in and take cost.

Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer of their first match in 2004.

Nadal’s serve gave him a substantial benefit within the first encounter towards the Swiss, by no means dealing with a break level or deuce in his video games and creating room to play extra aggressively on the return.

Additionally, Rafa served at 81% and gained 31 out of 39 factors after touchdown the primary serve in, producing spectacular numbers for a participant whose preliminary shot was not a main weapon in his arsenal within the early days. Nadal’s second serve labored like a attraction too (he needed to play simply 9 factors on the weaker serve, although), shedding 12 factors in 9 service video games – one thing he might have solely dreamed about earlier than the beginning of the match.

Then again, Roger couldn’t comply with these numbers behind his preliminary shot, dropping nearly 40% of the factors, taking part in towards seven break possibilities and struggling three breaks to propel Rafa over the end line. Federer had 16 service winners, and Nadal returned the opposite serves with no hassle to achieve an on the spot benefit within the rallies and ship the balls again to Roger’s backhand, particularly within the second set.

Nadal completed the encounter with 9 service winners and a 14-11 benefit within the winners from the sector, hitting with extra selection than his rival, who had solely two winners exterior his forehand. The Swiss sprayed 17 unforced errors, 12 from his extra substantial wing, whereas Nadal stayed on 14, primarily because of his backhand.

The Spaniard solid probably the most vital distinction within the pressured errors phase, hitting simply three from his backhand. On the identical time, Roger counted to 16, in one other glorious illustration of who was the extra aggressive participant and who had the higher hand within the rallies.

Due to these service winners, Federer had a slim edge within the shortest factors as much as 4 strokes (31-27), however every thing else was on Nadal’s facet. The younger gun demolished the opponent within the mid-range rallies from 5 to eight pictures (20-7) and clinched 11 of the longest 16 factors to earn probably the most spectacular victories earlier than turning into a Main contender a 12 months later.

“I am thrilled as a result of I performed the most effective matches of my life. Roger didn’t play his greatest tennis, and that is the rationale why I might win. I imply, if he had performed his greatest tennis, I’d have had no likelihood.

If a participant like me performs at a wonderful degree, and a high participant like Roger doesn’t, I can beat him. I performed nearly excellent tennis at present, stepping contained in the courtroom and dominating the exchanges to get him out from the consolation zone. I additionally served exceptionally nicely, most likely like by no means in my life; that was the important thing too,” Rafael Nadal mentioned.

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