Rafael Nadal leaves Pete Sampras behind at 22!

Rafael Nadal claimed his 12th Masters 1000 title in Toronto 2008

by Jovica Ilic
Rafael Nadal leaves Pete Sampras behind at 22!

Rafael Nadal kicked off his incredible Masters 1000 journey in Monte Carlo 2003, qualifying at 16 and reaching the third round. Five years later, Rafa secured his 12th Masters 1000 crown in Toronto, leaving Pete Sampras on 11 despite only turning 22!

Nadal wrapped up 2005 with four Masters 1000 titles and stood strong in the following two seasons to increase his tally. Ready to challenge Roger Federer for the ATP throne, Nadal made a solid start to the 2008 season and exploded during the clay swing.

Between Monte Carlo and Toronto, the Spaniard would win seven titles from eight tournaments, including two Majors and three Masters 1000 titles, moving closer than ever to the Swiss! Two weeks after that epic Wimbledon final, Rafa embraced the Canada Open campaign, seeking his first title at this event since 2005.

The Spaniard beat Jesse Levine, Igor Andreev, Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray to sail into the final, with a massive chance of earning the title.

Rafael Nadal clinched his 12th Masters 1000 title in Toronto 2008.

Two years before he retired, Nicolas Kiefer advanced to his first Masters 1000 title clash following wins over Mardy Fish, Mikhail Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake and Gilles Simon.

The German battled for three hours against Simon in the semi-final. He did not have much left in the tank for an in-form Nadal, who beat him 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and a half. Rafa lost 14 points in eight service games and fended off all three break chances to mount the pressure on the other side.

Kiefer barely lost a point behind the first serve. However, he served at only 47% to plague his chances. He struggled on the second serve and got broken four times from as many opportunities offered to Nadal. The Spaniard tamed his strokes nicely and had a massive advantage in the most extended exchanges.

He took 19 out of 22 to forge the victory and lift the trophy that put him ahead of Pete Sampras. Nadal grabbed a break at 15 at 2-2 in the opener and held easily to confirm the advantage and settle into a fine rhythm. The youngster closed the eighth game with an ace and seized four consecutive points on the return in the next one to take the opener 6-3.

Rafa worked hard in the second set's fifth game. He fended off those three break points, bringing the game home after six deuces to keep the initial shot intact. Nadal broke Kiefer in the next one to build the advantage before moving over the top with another break at 5-2 following a smash winner.

Rafael Nadal Pete Sampras