TORONTO: Rafael Nadal recovered from a slow start, overcoming Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 as the Spaniard’s chase for a long-sought Rogers Cup title on hardcourt heated up on Friday.
The world number one reached the semi-finals in Toronto and will next face Russian Karen Khachanov, who beat Robin Haase 6-3, 6-1.
Nadal last won a title at this level on cement in 2013.
“It was a very important match for me,” Nadal said. “Being in semi-finals is great news at the start of the hard court season. And winning three good matches in the first Master 1000, it’s so important for me.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas saved two match points to beat defending champion Alexander Zverev in their quarter-final contest 3-6, 7-6 (13-11), 6-4.
The Greek teenager, who turns 20 on Sunday’s final day, defeated his third straight top 10 opponent at the tournament after knocking out Dominic Thiem in the second round and 13-time major winner Novak Djokovic in the third.
Tsitsipas is the youngest player to post three top 10 wins at a single tournament since the 19-year-old Nadal at Monte Carlo in 2006.
Tsitsipas will next face Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson, who beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2.
“I’m confused now, is this real?” 27th-ranked Tsitsipas said after completing his prestige hat-trick of upsets.
Nadal got caught on the back foot in the first set against Cilic, who took the opener on his fourth chance.
Nadal struck back in the second with a concluding break to square the match before taking victory with a break in the final game on his third match point after more than two hours.
Tsitsipas rallied from a set and 5-2 down to turn the tables on Zverev, who had been bidding for a fourth Masters 1000 title.
Tsitsipas broke in the ninth game of the second on the way into a tiebreaker, where he calmly converted on his fifth set point after saving two match points for the second-seeded Zverev.
Tsitsipas then salvaged four break points for 2-1 in the third, he traded breaks with the German and saved another trio of break points for a 5-4 lead.
He completed the victory after nearly two and a half hours on Zverev’s sixth double-fault.
Anderson’s sweep past reigning ATP World Tour Finals champion Dimitrov was a rematch of their 2014 quarter-final duel in Canada when Dimitrov claimed one of his six wins against the South African.
The big South African rolled into the semis in just 66 minutes, breaking four times while managing only a modest 11 aces.
Meanwhile, women’s top seed Simona Halep sent Caroline Garcia packing for the second consecutive year at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Friday with a 7-5, 6-1 win to set up a semi-final showdown with Ashleigh Barty.
The French Open champion showed no signs of fatigue following her marathon three-set win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Wednesday, running down balls to extend points and wear down the slower Garcia.
After a shaky start Halep won three straight games to take the first set and dominated the second set behind pinpoint serving and stout defense.
Next up for Halep is Australian Barty, who strolled to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Kiki Bertens in their quarter-final match earlier in the day.
The 15th-seeded Barty won 80 percent of her first serve points and broke Bertens four times as she cruised to victory.
The semi-final will mark the first career meeting between Halep and Barty.
American Sloane Stephens faced little resistance in her 6-2, 6-2 win over Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova in a match that took a little over an hour to complete.
With the win Stephens advances to her second consecutive Rogers Cup semi-final after falling to Caroline Wozniacki last year.
The 25-year-old US Open champion will look to add her second hard court title of the year after she won the Miami Open in March.
But to do so she will have to get past defending champion Elina Svitolina after she dispatched Elise Mertens 7-5, 6-3 on Friday.
The fifth-seeded Ukrainian fired five aces and won 71 percent of her first serve points to book her ticket to the semis.
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018