Rafael Nadal is the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank champion once again.
The World No. 1 earned a hard-fought 6-2, 7-6(4) win in the final over talk-of-the-tournament Stefanos Tsitsipas. Nadal, who finished his match past midnight last night as a result of a rain delay, appeared far fresher of the two competitors, as the Tsitsipas dream run, which included four-straight Top 10 wins, appeared – at first – to have taken its toll on the Greek phenom.
Nadal started the match with the laser-like focus that had seemed amiss in late-night clashes with Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic and Karen Khachanov. He was able to break Tsitsipas in the third game of the match, consolidate, and broke once more for an unassailable first-set lead. The second followed a similar script, with Tsitsipas’s free-flowing shots not hitting the same mark they had been for the past week in Toronto.
But that was when everything changed. Finding greater consistency and capitalizing on a few loose errors as Nadal served for the championship, Tsitsipas was able to wrestle control back from the World No. 1, even going so far as to generate a set point on the Nadal serve. The match, however, seemed destined to fall in the Spaniard’s favour, as a lucky net cord winner would save that set point and pave the way for one final forehand winner in the tiebreak to seal victory in one hour, 41 minutes.
With the exception of his one broken game in the second set, the Nadal was absolutely dominant behind his serve, claiming a total of 94% of first-serve points and breaking the unseeded Greek three times in the match. The win marks his 80th title, 33rd Masters 1000 series title (an Open Era record) and fifth title of 2018.
It might not have been the birthday present that the Tsitsipas – who turned 20 today – might have hoped for, but he’ll have to be impressed with his efforts. On top of defeating several quality opponents in crowd-thrilling matches, the Greek will achieve a career-high singles ranking of World No. 15 next week in addition to taking home a half-a-million dollar cheque for reaching the final.
And that’s a gift anybody would be happy with.
In the men’s doubles final, No. 2 seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers were triumphant in a 6-2, 6-7(7), [10-6] decision over the unseeded duo of Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus. The Finnish/Australian duo missed out on four match points in the second-set tiebreak, but were able to seal victory after a one hour, 25 minutes on a sweltering Toronto afternon.
In press, when asked how they were planning to celebrate their win, Kontinen put it bluntly: “Have a beer and then go on our flight [to Cincinnati].”