Toronto: Rafael Nadal held off a late surge from birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim the 80th title of his career with victory at the Toronto Masters tennis tournament Sunday.
Nadal overcame a second set fightback from Greek youngster Tsitsipas to claim a 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory in just under 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Earlier, a vocal crowd of local flag-waving Greek fans had sang Happy Birthday to the 20-year-old Tsitsipas as Nadal reflected on a successful campaign. “I feel I’ve improved every match, it’s important to win even if you’re not at your best,” Nadal said as he prepares for the US Open later this month.
“It’s been almost 10 years (2010) since I last played in Toronto,” Nadal said of the event which comes to the city in even-number years as it trades with Montreal. “This trophy means a lot.”
The loss concluded the tennis week of his life for Tsitsipas, who beat four Top 10 opponent in a row to reach the final. “It’s been an amazing week for me,” he said. “This trophy means a lot after playing my first Masters 1000 final.
“Rafa is amazing, he never cracks. He will always grab you like a bulldog and he will always make you suffer on the court. He was (once) normal like all of us, and he managed to become this beast, this monster that he is today.”
The final featured a plot twist at the end, with Nadal broken while serving for victory leading a set and 5-4. Tsitsipas would not buckle, making it 5-5 as Nadal hit the net, with the set finally going into a tiebreaker. Nadal regained control, earning a match point on a Tsitsipas forehand error. The Spaniard concluded victory with a forehand winner deep into the corner.