‘I knew my first serve would bother Rafael Nadal’, says former ace

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 the 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 victory at the Canadian Masters thanks to a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over his compatriot and friend, Carlos Moyá.

In the second round, the youngster had a more relaxed day at the office, defeating Ricardo Mello 6-1 6-2 in 66 minutes after dominating from start to finish. The Spaniard gave up 11 points in eight service games, facing no break points and converting 56% of return points to earn four breaks from seven chances and cruise to the round of 16.

Andy Roddick speaks about Nadal

Andy Roddick could have been a five-time Grand Slam champion if not for the one and only Roger Federer. “It was just a rough matchup,” Roddick said. “There wasn’t much that I did well naturally that he couldn’t counter naturally.

Even against Rafael Nadal, I knew my first serve would bother him. I knew that I had a little bit more power through the court. And similarly to Roger [Federer] and Rafa, that matchup is more difficult on Roger because of the lefty and the spins.

Roger forced me out of my comfort zone consistently.” The 39-year-old touched on one of those Slam finals losses — at the 2006 US Open. “[The 2006 US Open] was fun ’cause I just started working with Jimmy Connors.

And so there was a bit of hype around that partnership,” Roddick said. “I had played pretty bad throughout that year except I kinda caught a little bit of form in the tournament in Cincinnati which is the biggest lead-in tournament and won that, and it kinda turned my entire year around.”

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