Rafael Nadal achieved his first title at Roland Garros 2005 and became a world record. 2 shortly thereafter. Rafa continued to work on his game, becoming a world number one. No. 1 contender by 2008. Nadal lifted the titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg and Roland Garros that year and got closer to Roger Federer.
Rafa improved his playing style on grass, beating Queens and Wimbledon and extending his winning streak to 32 before being stopped by Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati semi-finals. Nadal got enough points to overtake Federer on August 18 and become the world number one.
1 for the first time. Before that, the Spaniard headed to Beijing as one of the candidates for the men’s singles gold medal. He once again performed his best tennis to win another important title in that historic season. Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in three tough sets in the semi-finals after more than two hours and faced Fernando Gonzalez in the gold medal match.
Two hours and 23 minutes later, Rafa knocked out the Chilean 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 to embrace Olympic glory. Nadal completed his outstanding performance in the past few months, winning 38 out of 39 matches to become a well-deserved world record.
At Beijing 2008, Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Gonzalez in three sets to win the gold medal.
Nadal served well and saved all four break points to keep his matches intact. He pushed Gonzalez to the second serve limit and created ten break points, turning two to go to the top in straight sets.
The Chilean did his best to keep points on his racket and control the speed with fiery forehands. However, it was not enough against an opponent who defended well and avoided easy fouls. Fernando has won the previous two matches against Rafa on hard courts, including a notable win at the 2007 Australian Open.
However, he couldn’t replicate it against a brilliant competitor who played tennis at his best. Nadal started the confrontation in a reliable fashion, taking eight of his first ten points and sealing a break in game two when Fernando’s long backhand landed.
Gonzalez held a set point in Game Eight with a superb forehand before Rafa finished the deal with a forehand on the winning streak in the next set 6-3. Nadal had no problems serving, absorbing the opponent’s forehands like no one else had and taking the most powerful weapon out of the Chilean’s hands.
Both players passed serve in the second set, and were headed toward the end of the second half when Nadal faced his first losing service match, 5-6. Gonzalez hit a forehand winner to lead 40-15 with two points for the group.
However, the Chilean missed a backhand kick in the first and an easy forehand in the second, sealing his fate in this confrontation. Rafa finished the match with a forehand over the finish line to gain momentum before breaking the tie and clinching it 7-2 when Fernando sent in a long forehand.
Gonzalez saved two break points in the second game of the third set to avoid an early setback before Nadal next lost him in love and went 3-1 up front with a backhand cross. It was a one-man show in those moments, and Gonzalez couldn’t do anything to stop the fall.
He faced two extra break points in the sixth game and saved them to reduce the difference. Suddenly, the Chilean got a chance to fall back on the break after creating two chances in the next match. Rafa blocked them with a forehand, winning serve and closed the match with two additional direct points for a 5-2 advantage.
Fernando erased three match points in the eighth game with his serve to extend the clash. Nadal crossed the finish line with another powerful fist at 5-3, forcing his opponent to a foul to start a massive celebration of one of his cherished titles.