ROGERS CUP 2013
Nadal Edges Djokovic In Montreal Thriller, Faces Raonic in Final
by ATP Staff|
Rafael Nadal edged World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) in a pulsating Coupe Rogers semi-final Saturday night to earn a shot at his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title against home favourite Milos Raonic.
Advancing to his 36th Masters 1000 final, Nadal already owns the record for most titles won in the ATP’s premier series of tournaments. He is chasing his fourth Masters 1000 of the year in his fifth straight final, having won Indian Wells, finished runner-up in Monte-Carlo, and having won Madrid and Rome. (He did not play Miami.)
The two-time Canada Masters champion (2005, ‘08) extended his winning streak on hard courts to a perfect 9-0 this year. Nadal, who this year has already won more Emirates ATP Rankings points than Djokovic, boosted his chances of finishing as the year-end World No. 1 by beating his rival, who next week will look to complete the Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati. The Western & Southern Open is the only Masters 1000 Djokovic, a four-time finalist there, has not won.
“I said yesterday the only chance to win against Novak, the only tactic is to play very well,” Nadal said. “To play very well, I have to play aggressive. If not, I cannot play very well on this kind of surface. And I did. I played a very high level tonight, I think. I played with the right decisions in the important moments. Yes, the serve worked well during the whole night. And the shots from the baseline, I tried to stay very close to the baseline, go inside when I had the chance.”
Djokovic failed to exact revenge on Nadal after the World No. 4 fought past the top-ranked Serb in their previous encounter, a five-set semi-final thriller at Roland Garros. He halted Nadal’s eight-year title reign in Monte-Carlo six weeks prior, in their only other meeting of the year.
Nadal broke to open the match on an uncharacteristic Djokovic double fault and proceeded to break again for 5-2 on another double from the Serb. Djokovic was hurt by a total of seven double faults in the match. Nadal would go on to close out the first set 6-4, in 44 minutes, on a smash winner.
The World No. 1 found his range in the second set, however, opening the court with his laser-like ground-strokes and establishing a rhythm from the baseline. He would break for 5-4 on a Nadal forehand error, clawing back from down 40/0 in the game, and proceed to serve out the set.
Nadal did not fade in the third set, forcing the second deciding tie-break of the day in Montreal. After grabbing a pair of early mini-breaks, the man from Mallorca opened a 6-0 lead and would convert on his third match point when a Djokovic return sailed long.
“It was very close match,” Djokovic said. “So, I mean, there were very few points that decided the winner. Can't really pick one moment. I had my chances. He had his chances. You know, I guess at the end he played better… Whenever we play against each other, it's always a thrilling match for the crowd to see. We are both competing at the high level. We both want to win these matches.”
Nadal now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 21-15 and pulls closer to Djokovic on hard courts, trailing 6-11. Their 36th overall meeting ties Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe for the most in the Open Era.
“I started this important part of the season with a big result for me," added Nadal. "To be in the final is amazing. To be in a final of a Masters 1000 is amazing for me. Especially beating the best player of the world, Novak, tonight, it is a big result for me. Very happy for that. Tomorrow is an important match. For me, to win another Masters 1000 is a big illusion. But I know that anything can happen. If I lose tomorrow I will be very happy the way that I played and the result that I had this week.”
The Spaniard will carry an ATP World Tour-best record of 47-3 in 2013 into Sunday’s final. He will face home favorite Milos Raonic, with an opportunity to add a 25th Masters 1000 title to his impressive collection. Raonic triumphed in the first semi-final of the day, edging countryman Vasek Pospisil in a third set tie-break to become the first Canadian to advance to the final on home soil since 1958.
This will be the third meeting between Nadal and Raonic. The Canadian has failed to win a set in three encounters, the most recent coming in Barcelona this year.