After three notable seasons packed with Major titles and Masters 1000 crowns, world no. 2 Rafael Nadal was finally ready to challenge Roger Federer's ATP throne in 2008. The Spaniard lost in the semi-final at the Australian Open and Indian Wells and in the title clash in Miami before heading to his beloved clay.
Nadal conquered Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Hamburg and Roland Garros to gather momentum ahead of the grass swing. Seeking his first titles on the fastest surface, Rafa lifted trophies at Queen's and Wimbledon to secure six titles from the last seven tournaments and move closer to Roger Federer in the standings.
After well-deserved two weeks off the court, Nadal returned to action in Toronto, seeking the second Canada Open title and playing well to reach the semis. In a battle for the final, Rafa ousted the 8th seed Andy Murray 7-6, 6-3 in two hours and two minutes for his 39th victory in the last 40 encounters!
Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Murray in the 2008 Toronto semi-final.
Nadal beat Murray for the fifth time in as many matches, losing serve once and stealing Andy's serve twice from as many chances to cross the finish line in straight sets.
The Briton had more winners and more unforced errors, struggling to follow Nadal's pace in the shortest exchanges and failing to beat the better-ranked opponent. There was nothing to separate them in the opening ten games, serving well and keeping the returners without a chance.
Andy grabbed the 11th game when Rafa sprayed a forehand error, and Rafa held at 15 a few minutes later to introduce a tie break. Nadal moved 4-2 in front with a service winner and placed a deep backhand that forced Murray's mistake to move further in front.
The Spaniard wrapped up the set after taking the following two points on the return, moving closer to the finish line after Murray's double fault in the ninth point. Nadal saved the first break chances at the beginning of the second set and held after numerous deuces to avoid an early setback.
In the fourth game, Andy netted an easy backhand to experience a break and fall 3-1 behind, drifting further away from the positive side. Suddenly, Nadal hit a double fault in the next game to suffer a break and miss a chance to cement the advantage.
Staying calm, Rafa broke at 15 in the eighth game and held after deuce to seal the deal and reach the title clash against Nicolas Kiefer.