Rafael Nadal defeated Cameron Norrie on Saturday to win his 11th consecutive ATP Tour final, but the Spaniard has some way to go before catching up with Roger Federer. Between October 2003 and October 2005, the Swiss contested 24 finals and won every single one of them.
Federer, then 22 years old and a 1-time Grand Slam champion, reached the final of the 2003 Vienna Open to begin his streak. He’d lost the previous final against Jiri Novak at the Swiss Open, but the former World No. 1 defeated Carlos Moya in straight sets in Vienna to win the 10th ATP title of his career.
From there, the World No. 29 went to the year-end championship as the 3rd seed. He won all five matches, including a victory over top seed Andy Roddick in the semifinals and fifth seed Andre Agassi in the finals, to win his first ever ATP Tour Finals.
The 20-time-Grand Slam champion began 2004 by winning the Australian Open, vanquishing Marat Safin in the final in straight sets. He followed it up with his second title in Dubai with a victory over Feliciano Lopez.
The Dubai title was succeeded by two Masters titles, Federer’s first Indian Wells title and second Hamburg Masters title. As the top seed, the Swiss defeated Tim Henman in the former’s final and Guillermo Coria in the latter’s final.
The current World No. 29 began the grass season with a title at Halle, his second triumph, where he defeated Mardy Fish in the final. From there on, it was a trip to Wimbledon, where he won his third Grand Slam and second title at SW19 by ousting Roddick in a tight four-setter.
Federer then returned to his home country to win his first Swiss open, beating Igor Andreev on the claycourts of Gstaad in straight sets. The North American swing followed, where the 20-time Grand Slam champion won the Canadian Masters and the US Open.
In Toronto, he defeated Roddick for the second time in a final that year, whereas he dispatched off former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the US Open with a double bagel. The Swiss former World No. 1 repeated the set once again before the end of the year, this time beating Roddick in the final of the Thailand Open and the Australian in the final of the Year-end Championship (his second title).
Roger Federer ended the year with 11 titles to his name, including three Grand Slams. He also became the first man in the Open Era to win at least three Majors and the Year-end Championship. He also became the first player since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three Majors in a year.
Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal for the first time in a final at the 2005 Miami Masters
Roger Federer began the 2005 season by defeating Ivan Ljubicic in three consecutive finals — the Dubai Open, Rotterdam Open and Dubai Tennis Championship (third title in Dubai).
The Swiss then defended his titles at Indian Wells and Hamburg with victories over Lleyton Hewitt and Richard Gasquet respectively in the finals. The two Masters titles were interjected by another ATP 1000 title, the Miami Masters.
Seeded first in the tournament, Federer defeated 29th seed Rafael Nadal in a marathon five-setter in the final after overturning a two-set deficit. It marked the first ever meeting between the pair in a final, a feat they would go on to repeat 23 more times.
The former World No. 1 also defended his title at Halle by defeating Marat Safin in the final. He won his third Wimbledon on the trot the following month, vanquishing Andy Roddick in the final in straight sets. Federer crushed Roddick in yet another final in August, this time at the Cincinnati Masters.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion proceeded to defeat Andre Agassi at Flushing Meadows up next to win his second Major of the year. He defended his title at the Thailand Open as well, this time prevailing over Andy Murray in the final. Incidentally, it was the tournament after which Murray entered the Top-100 for the first time in his career.
At the Year-end Championships, however, Federer suffered his first loss in a final in almost two years. After winning all three of his round-robin matches (against Guillermo Coria, Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian) and the semifinal encounter (against Gaston Gaudio), the defending champion fell in the final to Nalbandian in an epic five-setter.