5 hours 14 minutes – the longest ATP final in history, contested between two biggest clay-court specialists at the time: the King of Clay of years 2003-04, 23-year-old Coria, and his four years younger opponent who became a new King of Clay for the next ten years! Nadal trailed *2:4 (30/40) in the 1st set. He clinched the 3rd set after a 22-minute game (11 deuces, 7 break/set points required). Between 3rd & 4th sets, Nadal needed a treatment to blisters in his left palm, took a medical time-out three games later. From the mid-4th set, the final was played under the floodlights. Coria had two game points to lead 4:0 in the deciding set, but Nadal won four games in a row to lead 4:3. No breaks of serve since then, and the Spaniard converted his fourth match point: squandered the first one at 6:5*, another two leading 6:4 in the tie-break (missed Coria’s second serve with risky return & committed a double fault).
“This was the toughest match of my life,” Nadal said. “I want to thank the fans, without whom I would have lost 6-2 (in the fifth set).” After the exhausting final the teenager withdrew from his first round match in Hamburg the following week & came back on courts in Paris two weeks later to win his first major title.
Nadal’s route to his first Rome title:
1 Mikhail Youzhny 6-0, 6-2
2 Victor Hanescu 6-1, 6-1
3 Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-1
Q Radek Stepanek 5-7, 6-1, 6-1
S David Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
W Guillermo Coria 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6)
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