The 17-time Grand Slam champion, Rafa Nadal, was completely on fire on Saturday night as he won the Rogers Cup semifinal in Toronto against Karen Khachanov in straight sets 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
With this win, he is just one match away from a record 33rd ATP 1000 Maters title. The match was delayed because of rain, but Nadal was not affected by the delay of play as he was in complete control throughout the match to extend his head to head against Khachanov to 4-0.
The first set was a tricky one for the world no.1 as the set went to a tie-break with Nadal eventually winning 7-6 (7-3), and not as comfortable as expected.
The Russian was already under pressure in the second game of the match with Nadal bringing the intensity to gain 3 break points. Karen saved 2 break points but couldn't deal with an easy forehand, trying to go big and an unforced error gave Nadal an early break to lead the opening set 2-0.
However, an aggressive Khachanov broke back the next game, showing Nadal that it wouldn't all be his way this evening. There was nothing between the two as both the players refused to give an inch, playing with the same power, strength, and intensity until the start of the tie-break.
Nadal served first in the tie-break and got a mini break as the Russian missed 3 big forehands in a row to grant the Spaniard a comfortable 5-2 lead. Nadal then took care of business, winning the tie-breaker 7-3.
The 22-year-old again handed Rafa an early break in the second set as the world no. 1 was teasing Khachanov with his consecutive backhand slices in the 3rd game. Nadal was waiting for Karen to make an error and a forced forehand error by the Russian gave Nadal a 2-1 lead early in the second set.
The Mallorcan was continuously asking questions of the Russian in the second set. The 3-time Rogers Cup champion then went on to serve for the match at 5-4, winning the game quite comfortably with an overhead smash and finishing in style as the 32-year old reaches his 116th overall finals.
Nadal will be playing the next gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Rogers Cup on Sunday evening. The teenager is in incredible form this week beating 4 top 10 players - Thiem, Djokovic, Zverev, and Anderson. He saved a match point winning 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) against Kevin Anderson in the semi-final.
The Greek, who will turn 20 on Sunday, has a huge challenge against Nadal who is looking forward to winning his 80th overall title and 4th Rogers Cup. The two locked horns only once in their careers so far during the Barcelona Open in Spain earlier this year with Nadal winning quite easily 6-2,6-1.
This will be Rafa's 4th Roger Cup finals winning all the previous 3 finals. Tsitsipas will be looking forward to winning his maiden ATP 1000 master title and equalling his head to head against the Mallorcan while Nadal would be expecting to break the Greek's winning streak against the top 10 this week and winning his 80th career title.Published 12 Aug 2018, 13:54 IST