Rafael Nadal: ‘I consider myself a normal driver’

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In February 2005, Rafael Nadal faced Ricardo Mello for two and a half hours on his way to the Costa do Sauipe title. Half a year later, the Spaniard would lose three games against the Brazilian in the second round of the Canadian Masters in Montreal to secure a place in the third round.

A lot had happened between those two meetings, with Nadal becoming one of the best players in the world after a fantastic run in his first notable season. In February, Rafa won two ATP titles on clay before reaching the final in Miami and winning the first Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo.

The youngster conquered Barcelona and Rome in the following weeks and made a perfect debut at Roland Garros, beating Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta to lift his first Major trophy. Rafa did not play well on grass, losing early in Halle and Wimbledon to run out of steam a bit.

However, he bounced back quickly, winning titles in Bastad and Stuttgart in July and taking a break before Montreal. Playing for the first time as world No. 2, Nadal opened with a victory at the Canadian Masters thanks to a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over his compatriot and friend, Carlos Moyá

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