Facing Fear: Rafael Nadal’s Remarkable Win against Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer started their rivalry on March 28, 2004, in the Miami Masters third round. It was the first chapter in their incredible rivalry, and the 17-year-old Nadal beat world no. 1 Federer 6-3, 6-3 in 70 minutes for a place in the last 16.

Rafa feared losing 6-1, 6-1, or something like that. Instead, he produced his A-game to leave the world’s leading player miles behind for a notable victory. At 17 years and nine months, Nadal became the youngest player with a win over world no.

1 player since the formation of the ATP Tour 14 years earlier. Only a few could have predicted this outcome, even after knowing Roger was not at his best. The Swiss won the Indian Wells title a week before and struggled in the previous match against Nikolay Davydenko in Florida.

It was an incredible performance from the youngster, who served at 81% and never faced a deuce or a break point! Federer was miles from those numbers, playing against seven break chances and suffering three breaks to propel Nadal into the last 16, where he faced Fernando Gonzalez.

Roger had 16 service winners, which was insufficient to keep him safe. Rafa took advantage of the rallies and pushed the rival’s backhand to the limits. Nadal had a 14-11 lead in the winners from the field, hitting with more variety than his opponent, who had only two winners outside his forehand.

The Swiss sprayed 17 unforced errors, 12 from his most reliable wing, while the Spaniard stayed on 14, mainly thanks to his backhand.

Rafael Nadal spoke about his victory over Roger Federer in Miami 2004.
Rafa forged the most significant difference in the forced errors segment, hitting just three from his backhand.

At the same time, Roger counted 16, in another excellent illustration of who was the more aggressive player and who had the upper hand in the exchanges. Thanks to those service winners, Federer had a slim edge in the shortest points up to four strokes (31-27).

However, everything else was on Nadal’s side. The young gun demolished his opponent in the mid-range rallies from five to eight shots (20-7). Also, he clinched 11 of the most extended 16 points to earn one of the most impressive victories of his young career.

“I was afraid Roger would beat me 6-1, 6-1. However, I was looking forward to this encounter, facing world no. 1. I stepped onto the court with a positive attitude, not the one that would make me happy after winning a few games.

I knew the most important thing was not letting him play his game. I also had to dictate the rallies and keep the points on my racquet,” Rafael Nadal said.


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