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Revisiting Miami: Birthplace of the Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal Rivalry 8

Posted on March 26, 2010 by JA Allen
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have met 20 times since 2004.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have met 20 times since 2004.

The root of the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer began in Miami when the Spaniard was a teenager with a huge reserve of self-belief.

As the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open begins in earnest this week, it might be interesting and informative to examine the tournament that set the bar for their future encounters.

Early on, playing practically perfect tennis against Federer evolved into an art form for Nadal. Nothing seemed to inspire him more or engage his senses more completely than striving to match his considerable strengths against the man many proclaimed then and now as the best player ever to wield a tennis racquet.

The quixotic mission to overtake Federer drove Nadal for 4½ years, finally propelling him into that vaunted No. 1 spot in August 2008.

But let us harken back to March 2004 when newly dominant 22 year-old Roger Federer, feeling ill and stripped of strength, struggled past Russian Nikolay Davydenko during the round of 64 at the NASDAQ-100 Miami Masters.

His next opponent was newcomer 17-year-old Rafael Nadal, ranked No. 36 in the world. Nadal was a hard-hitting left-hander from Spain, a country renowned for its prowess on clay.  This, however, was a hard court event.

Anointed No. 1 a month earlier, Federer arrived in Miami having won 28 matches during the previous nine months, including his first Wimbledon crown in 2003 and his first Australian Open title in 2004.  Even weakened, Federer expected to win this match.

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