Nadal sets up Tsitsipas showdown in Toronto final

Published by AP/Tennismash

Rafael Nadal celebrates his semifinal victory over Karen Khachanov and will shoot for a fourth Masters title in Canada when he faces Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's decider; Getty Images
Rafael Nadal ends the run of Russia’s Karen Khachanov to book a date with Greek giantkiller Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Toronto Masters final.

World No.1 Rafael Nadal will in the Toronto final face an opponent celebrating his 20th birthday just a fortnight out from the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

Nadal, chasing his 80th tour title and fourth at the Canadian Masters event, beat Karen Khachanov 7-6(3) 6-4 in a rain-delayed night match that ended after midnight.

He extended his winning record over the Russian to 4-0, having never dropped a set to the 22-year-old.

Earlier on Saturday, Tsitsipas fought back from a set down and staved off a match point in the third-set tiebreaker to defeat South African world No.6 Anderson 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(7).

Nadal – a winner in Canada in 2005, 2008 and 2013 – has four titles this year which have all come on clay; at the French Open, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. His win-loss record in 2018 stands at 39-3.

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The 32-year-old Spanish star beat Tsitsipas in April in the Barcelona final in their only meeting. The scoreline was 6-2 6-1.

“To win this match is important, it’s very important to be in the final of Toronto,” Nadal said.

“I’m motivated every day when I wake up, there is always something to improve. I want to stay around for as long as possible (in tennis).”

Tsitsipas is attempting to become the first player since Albert Portas at Hamburg in 2001 to win his first ATP World Tour title at a Masters 1000 event.

Nadal is wary of the 19-year-old, who has won 29 of his past 39 matches and is projected to crack the top 15 after being ranked 71st in mid April.

“He’s a complex player. He has everything,” Nadal said.

“He’s young. Has passion for the game. He has a great forehand, great backhand, good serve. So he’s not about one thing. He’s about everything.”

The final is scheduled to take place in Toronto on Sunday, not before 4pm.

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