In the opening months of the 2004 season, it seemed that young Rafael Nadal was ready to challenge the players from the top, reaching his first ATP final in Adelaide and beating no. 1, Roger Federer, in Miami in straight sets.
At the start of the clay season in Estoril, Rafa injured his left ankle against Richard Gasquet, suffering greatly and skipping Roland Garros and Wimbledon while losing ground and almost 30 places on the ATP ranking list.
Starting back in Bastad in July, Rafa advanced to a couple of quarter-finals on clay before experiencing short campaigns in Canada and Cincinnati, flying back to Europe and winning the first ATP title in Sopot.
Taking time off, Nadal returned to the US Open where he reached the third round on his debut a year ago, defeating Ivo Heuberger in five sets to fix the encounter with no. 2 and defending champion Andy Roddick.
Carried by the home crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Andy achieved a one-sided 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 win in one hour and 36 minutes, leaving the youngster behind after a rock-solid performance in both the service as in the return.
Dealing with an elbow injury, Rafa couldn’t do much with the serve, giving up seven serves and winning just one break to propel the American to the last 32.
Rafael Nadal compared Roger Federer and Andy Roddick at the 2004 US Open.
Having the opportunity to play Roger Federer and Andy Roddick in six months, Rafa was asked to compare them after that loss at the US Open.
The Spaniard put Federer up front, describing him as a complete player and saying he owns all the shots. At the same time, Nadal mentioned that Roddick relies mainly on his powerful serve and forehand, which was not enough to compete against the Swiss.
Until that point, Federer has scored seven wins in eight encounters over Roddick, beating him in the Wimbledon and Canada Masters finals that summer. “Roger Federer and Andy Roddick are very different. For me, Roger Federer is the favorite in that possible match; he has all the shots while Roddick relies on power,” said Rafael Nadal.