It was one of the easier Masters semifinal days for Rafael Nadal. The 4-time champion in Canada didn’t have to hit a ball in Montreal today because his opponent, Gael Monfils, withdrew due to a left ankle injury.
Late Friday rain forced the completion of Monfils’s quarterfinal match against Roberto Bautista Agut which was just two points in when Mother Nature intervened.
Today, after a two hour delay due to more rain, Monfils jumped out on top of the Spaniard before Bautista Agut took the second.
Monfils tweaked his ankle in the third, but stayed with on court and eventually played an incredible tiebreak to take the match 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) in just under 2-and-a-half hours.
The ankle though – the same one he injured in March at Indian Wells and re-injured at Wimbledon – wasn’t good enough to go.
“I didn’t roll it fully, but I rolled it a little bit, enough for me to be careful. He told me I had no chance. I was like, ‘Yeah, but we never know’,” Monfils said of his conversation with coach Liam Smith. “He knows I love these matches, night session, Rafa. It’s because I’m playing tennis for that, for the big moments, big shows. He said, ‘But not this one’. He’s right, because we’ve been battling all year. Unfortunate in March, a little bit again in July. Maybe it was the safest decision not to play tonight.”
So Nadal goes thru to his fifth Canadian final and 51st Masters final. He’ll try for his first title defense on a surface other than clay against Daniil Medvedev.
The 23-year-old Medvedev arrives into his first Masters final without surrendering a set all week. And today, he edged good friend and countryman Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6(6).
“I absolutely did not think about the times when we were young. But it is, of course, a very special match. Before the match, I hadn’t thought about that, but I quickly understood it was going to be the match for me to become the top one in Russia,” Medvedev said. “So it was a big match. Both of us, we don’t like to play each other, so we were tense.”
Medvedev routed Khachanov early and then led with a break in the second before things got tighter.
Khachanov actually led in the breaker 5-4 and was inches from a set point on an overrule.
Medvedev was too steady and and lucky as a net dribbled over on match point to put him in the biggest final of his career.
“I’m playing very well right now. I believe if I am able to play like this, it’s not going to be easy for Rafa,” Medvedev said. “It’s going to be a big battle. I’m hoping that I can pull it out.
Nadal and Medvedev have never played before, though Medvedev did beat Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo and he’s gone 5-1 in his last six against Top 10 players.
“Of course it’s extra special. I played Novak and Roger a few times, both of them already. It’s different, I have to say. Yeah, there is some extra pressure. At the same time it’s fun to play them because, well, that’s what I have been working for all my life,” Medvedev said. “I won’t be intimidated. I want to win every match I play… hopefully I can do it tomorrow.”
Nadal will bid for his 5th title in Canada and 35th at a Masters.
SUNDAY MONTREAL SCHEDULE
Court Central Starts At 1:30 Pm
Robin Haase/Wesley Koolhof v Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos
Not Before 4:00 Pm
(1) Rafael Nadal v (8) Daniil Medvedev
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