MONTREAL: Rafael Nadal held off Novak Djokovic in three tense sets and will now try and stop Canadian Milos Raonic from making more tennis history at the Montreal Masters.
Fourth-seed Nadal, champion in the event in 2005 and 2008, defeated top seed and two-time defending champion Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) to reach his 10th final of the season.
Nadal’s two-hour, 20-minute struggle with Djokovic was a tight affair, with small margins determining victory.
Nadal dominated the third-set tiebreaker, taking a 6-0 lead. Djokovic saved two match points before falling.
“I tried my best in the tiebreaker,” said Nadal, winner of seven titles this season. “I had to hit some fantastic shots to compete well against a big player like Novak. I’m very, very satisfied.”
Djokovic’s defeat ended a 13-match win streak in Canada for the Serbian, who also won the title in 2007 before his back-to-back triumphs in 2011 and 2012.
“It was a very close match, there were very few points that decided the winner,” said Djokovic. “I had my chances. He had his chances, at the end he played better.”
Raonic becomes first Canadian in final since 1958
Raonic, meanwhile, became the first Canadian into the tournament’s final since 1958, when Robert Bedard won it.
Raonic booked his place with a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory over compatriot Vasek Pospisil, and with the win ensured he will be the first Canadian ever to reach the top 10 in the ATP world rankings.
“The top 10 stands out because it’s a goal that I set out this year,” he said. “To be able to do it here in Montreal is pretty amazing.”
Even so, he would like nothing better than to cap his campaign with a victory, especially over a player of Nadal’s caliber. And he will have his work cut out against Nadal. The Spaniard has won all three of their prior encounters, including two on hardcourts.
“This week’s not over, by any means,” said Raonic. “There’s a lot of excitement for that chance I have for myself.”
Elsewhere, English duo Andy Murray and Colin Fleming progressed into the men’s doubles final after outplaying Daniel Nestor and Robert Lindstedt 6-3, 6-0.
Earlier, Murray and Fleming had defeated Pakistan’s Aisamul Haq Qureshi and his Dutch partner Jean-Julien Rojer 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in the quarter-final.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2013.
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