A few days after turning 19, Rafael Nadal won his first Major title at Roland Garros in 2005. By winning in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome that spring and building momentum before Paris, where he defeated Mariano Puerta and Roger Federer, the young Spaniard emerged as the player to beat on clay.
Speaking on his maiden Paris campaign, Nadal claimed that he already had noteworthy victories on clay, thus his victory was not unexpected. Nadal defeated Mariano Puerta 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 in three hours and 24 minutes to win the tournament and become the fifth-youngest Major champion in the Open Era following his semifinal triumph over world no. 1 Roger Federer.
To put more pressure on the other team, Nadal connected on 79 percent of his first serves and turned down 11 of 14 break attempts. Puerta gave it his all in sets one and four, but it wasn’t enough to produce a more favorable outcome, as he was broken eight times out of the 18 opportunities Rafa was given.
The Argentine led the medium-distance rallies, while the Spaniard took the lead in the shorter rallies up to four strokes. In the longer rallies, there was no difference between them, and Nadal won after amassing 18 points more than his competitor.
In his first Major final, Rafa got off to a strong start by breaking Mariano in the first game. He had additional chances in games three and five. In game six, Puerta overcame them and broke Nadal‘s serve to tie the match at 3-3. After almost an hour, they reached a tie break and experienced seven straight mini-breaks.
At 5-6, Rafa saved a set point, but Mariano won the following two games to win the tie break 8-6. In the second set, Nadal evened things out by breaking at 2-1 and building a 5-2 advantage. The Spaniard held to love at 5-3 to win the set, tie the match, and gain momentum going into set three.
Rafa Nadal and McEnroe
John McEnroe distills a number of distinct viewpoints while on “tour” for a few weeks in support of the premiere of his documentary, which is already playing in cinemas across the Channel. The American praises Rafael Nadal‘s tenacity and disposition once more for Tennis365.
“I have never seen anyone like him. Before I watched Rafael Nadal, I felt Jimmy Connors was making an effort. That is absurd. And by a wide margin, that is his best characteristic. We all know what a great player the guy is. People aspire to be like him, but it’s really difficult to achieve, McEnroe said. “But the fact that he can go out on the court and put in that type of effort is something that people crave for.