TENNIS | CANADA MASTERS
Insatiable Rafa Nadal
The Spaniard comfortably beat Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-2 to win the Canada Masters. It’s his eighth title of the year and his 25th Masters 1000.
Just as occurred at Roland Garros, the semi-final was the final. Having broken the rules on the hard stuff, seeing off Novak Djokovic on his favoured surface, Nadal imposed his own law on the final, that of an ever-unsatisfied champion, against Milos Raonic. The giant Canadian, who leaves Montreal as a top 10 player, fell to the infinite desire of the Spaniard (6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour 28 minutes) giving Rafa his eighth title of the year and the 25th Masters 1000 of his career. It’s also his third Canadian triumph, following 2005 and 2008.
No other tennis player can go from nought to top gear like Nadal can. Coming back after seven months out and still surrounded by doubts over his knees in February he won seven trophies. But after winning his eighth Roland Garros he went out in the first round at Wimbledon with tendonitis affecting the joint again. So to Montreal, where he hoped to prepare himself for the US Open and ended up winning the trophy. The win over Raonic is worth 1,000 ranking points –he’s nothing to defend from here to the end of the year and is back to number three- but the win over his Serb rival could be worth real gold.
Nadal went into the semi-final with a 20-15 winning record over Djokovic, but on the hard surfaces the Serb had the advantage, 11-5. “You dream of playing matches like the one I just played” said Rafa after winning that match, playing aggressively and secure on his serve. Heart and pressure worked against Djokovic and the numbers now show Nadal has won five of their last six games. Nadal goes to New York as much favourite as anyone.
Nadal didn’t suffer a jot against Raonic (born in Montenegro and raised in Canada). Meanwhile for the big tower (1.95m / 6ft 4) the final just didn’t exist, given the unstoppable force in front of him.
Raonic’s big weapon is his serve (an average of 14 aces per match), but it wasn’t working and Nadal got the returns back and then took the giant apart on the rallies. The Spaniard meanwhile was serving like Milos normally does, winning 90% of his first service points and 100% of his second serves in the first set. Devastating.
In the second set Nadal started with a break and neutralised the home crowd. He could smell his second hard court title of the year after Indian Wells and he went after it to close it out 6-2. “Every game against Rafa is a thriller”, said Djokovic. Maybe more a terror film; that’s certainly how Raonic felt and maybe how everyone should feel before the US Open.