Rafael Nadal is one step closer to earning his next ATP Tour title…
The 27-year-old Spanish tennis star defeated two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2) in an electrifying, two-and-a-half-hour match on Saturday night to reach the Rogers Cup final.
Nadal, ranked No. 4 in the world, beat Djokovic in the semifinals at this year’s French Open this year en route to winning the championship. He’s now aiming for his eighth title of the season but only his second on hard courts. The others have all come on clay.
“I said yesterday the only chance to win against Novak, the only tactic is to play very well,” said Nadal. “And I did. I played a very high level tonight, I think. I played with the right decisions in the important moments.”
Nadal will face Milos Raonic in Sunday’s final.
Nadal and Djokovic were playing for the 36th time, tying the record for matches contested by two players in the Open era set by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Nadal leads the series 21-15, and with the win, narrowed Djokovic’s advantage on hard courts to 11-6.
“It was very close match,” said Djokovic. “Whenever we play against each other, it’s always a thrilling match for crowd to see. We are both competing at the high level. We both want to win these matches.”
Nadal, who is coming off a disappointing first-round loss at Wimbledon, opened a 6-0 lead in the third-set tiebreaker before converting on his third match point when Djokovic hit a return long.
Nadal has an ATP-best 47-3 record this year and will rise to No. 3 in the rankings, regardless of whether he wins the final.