Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka embrace a thriller. Who wins?

Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka played two tight sets in Toronto 2018

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka embrace a thriller. Who wins?

A three-time Canada Masters champion Rafael Nadal advanced into the quarter-final in Toronto 2018 after a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 triumph over Stan Wawrinka in two hours and eight minutes. Rafa beat Stan for the 17th time in 20 encounters and reached his 86th Masters 1000 quarter-final, facing the Swiss for the first time since the last year's Roland Garros.

It was Nadal's 37th win from 40 matches that year, and he had to work hard to secure it. The Spaniard trailed 5-3 in the second set before performing a comeback to seal the deal in straight sets and preserve energy ahead of the next duels.

It was an open war right from the start. Wawrinka made Nadal run for his money, finishing the match with a 32-29 ratio against Nadal's 25-23. The Spaniard had a slight advantage in both the shortest and mid-range points. Still, it would not have been undeserved had Stan held in that second set's tenth game when he served for it.

A night earlier, Wawrinka saved match points against Marton Fucsovics, giving his best against the world's leading player. Rafa held at love in the encounter's opening game with a forehand winner and created two break points in the next one.

Stan saved them with winners to avoid the setback and competed with Nadal in the next six games to reach 4-4 after a service winner in game eight.

Rafael Nadal prevailed over Stan Wawrinka in Toronto 2018, trailing 5-3 in the second.

Rafa experienced the first issues behind the initial shot when Stan created three break chances in game nine with a forehand down the line winner.

The Spaniard saved them mainly after Stan's mistakes and earned two set points on the return in game ten. The Swiss saved both with service winners to make a vital hold, and Nadal stayed focused and held at 15 in game 11 after a drop shot winner.

The rain started to fall and halted the action for over 40 minutes, with Wawrinka finding his rhythm while serving to stay in the set once they returned. He wasted two game points, though, and Nadal found a way to break him and take the opener 7-5 after a grueling 69 minutes.

Carried by this momentum, Rafa opened the second set with a break in game two when Stan sprayed a backhand error. Still, the Swiss found his backhand in the next game to break back and stay on the positive side. Wawrinka broke again in game five when Nadal's forehand landed long and served for the set at 5-4.

A forehand down the line earned a break for Nadal, and he was the favorite in the tie break. The result stayed with serve until 3-3. The Spaniard grabbed a mini-break in the seventh point and moved 6-3 up after two good points behind the initial shot.

Stan saved the first match point before Rafa sealed the deal with a forehand return winner, taking the breaker 7-4 and moving into the last eight.

Rafael Nadal Stan Wawrinka