Canada Flashback: Rafael Nadal edges Karen Khachanov and reaches final

by   |  VIEW 6639

Canada Flashback: Rafael Nadal edges Karen Khachanov and reaches final

Rafael Nadal competed at the 2018 Canada Masters as world no. 1. Rafa scored four wins to advance into his 116th ATP final and the first at this event in five years. Nadal took down the first-time Masters 1000 semi-finalist Karen Khachanov 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 49 minutes.

The former champion controlled the scoreboard despite a tight scoreboard, facing only one break point and creating seven opportunities on the return. The Russian repelled five of those to stay in contention. Still, it was not enough to win at least a set and extend the clash in his finest Masters 1000 week up to that point.

It was Nadal's 39th win from 42 encounters in 2018, qualifying for the ATP Finals as the first player that year. The Spaniard had 22 winners and unforced errors. At the same time, Khachanov stood on a negative 24-37 ratio, making too many mistakes from his forehand while trying to stay aggressive and keep the upper hand in the rallies.

The youngster had the edge in the more extended exchanges but lost ground to Rafa in the shortest and mid-range ones. Nadal held in the opening game after a few deuces and grabbed a break in the next one thanks to Khachanov's loose forehand.

Karen broke back at love in game three when Rafa's forehand landed long. It was a significant moment for his confidence, as he served well to remain in touch with a great rival.

Rafael Nadal beat Karen Khachanov to advance into the final in Toronto 2018.

The Russian saved a break chance with an ace in game eight and fired three winners at 5-6 to set up a tie break.

Khachanov's forehand let him down in the worst moment. He lost two points on serve to fall 5-2 behind and allowed Rafa to grab the breaker 7-3 with another mini-break in the tenth point after 61 minutes. Carried by this momentum, Nadal lost just six points on serve in set number two.

Khachanov could not follow that pace, getting broken in game three when his forehand finished in the net. A fantastic forehand down the line winner earned another break chance for Rafa in game five, denied by Karen's mighty forehand.

The Russian brought the game home after a few more deuces to stay within one break deficit, having to steal Nadal's serve to extend the battle. That was the last big moment of the match, though, as Rafa drove fast towards the finish line. In game ten, he sealed the deal with a Pete Sampras-like smash for a hold at love and a place in the final.