Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal began their famous rivalry in Miami 2004 when the young Spaniard surprised the no. 1 in consecutive series. A year later, the same players were in the final in Florida, with a similar scenario waiting around the corner after Nadal claimed the first two sets and a 4-1 lead in the third.
From the brink of defeat, Federer rallied to steal the third set and rush to the finish line in the fourth and fifth, lifting the trophy and leaving a teenager empty-handed in his first notable final. Nadal became the second youngest player in the Masters 1000 final after Michael Chang, and he didn’t have to wait too long to advance to second, he did it a couple of weeks later in Monte Carlo on his beloved clay.
In the title match, Nadal faced a formidable obstacle in reigning champion Guillermo Coria. The youngster edged out the Argentine 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 in a three-hour, nine-minute challenge to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion at 18 years and ten months.
After two dominant sets, Nadal lost ground in the third, dropping it before opening a 4-1 gap in the fourth for another big step towards the title. When Coria withdrew the fast break and leveled the score at 4-4, Nadal began to think about Federer’s recent clash in Miami.
Using that one’s experience, a teenager kept his composure and prevailed with a late break in Game 12 to move over the top and celebrate the first notable title of his young career.
Bencic opens up on Roger Federer
Roger Federer was expected to partner Belinda Bencic in mixed doubles at the Tokyo Olympics, but a knee setback at Wimbledon forced him to withdraw from the event altogether.
Bencic was naturally disappointed with the news, but she was comforted by the fact that the 20-time Major champion personally broke the news to her before informing everyone else. “For sure, they’re both following everything.
Especially Roger,” Bencic said. “I know he’s following from Futures to Challengers to Olympics to everything… He definitely knows what’s going on and how we play. He messaged us after the doubles yesterday, so I’m sure he’s watching.”
The former World No. 4 further expressed her gratitude for being part of Switzerland’s golden generation of tennis stars. According to Bencic, representing her nation at the Games is a “privilege” “I’m just really grateful that I can be one of them,” Bencic said.
“I never imagined that I could be in this era of Swiss tennis. I’m very happy I can actually be here. I’m not taking it as a pressure, but as a privilege.”