On March 28, 2004, a 17-year-old Spaniard named Rafael Nadal introduced himself to the world by defeating No. 1 Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3 in the third round of the NASDAQ-100 Open. The surprising 70-minute victory for the 34th-ranked player in the world kick-started a 10-year rivalry that has spanned 33 meetings, including eight Grand Slam finals and perhaps the greatest match of all time, the 2008 Wimbledon final.
Nadal, the youngest player in the tournament (which is now called the Sony Open), was a highly touted prospect but had yet to win a tour-level title. Federer was the reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion and had become No. 1 for the first time seven weeks earlier. Federer entered with a 23-1 record for the year, including a 12-match winning streak after back-to-back titles in Dubai and Indian Wells.