TORONTO – In the best game of the tournament so far, Rafael Nadal survived an early scare from quarterfinal opponent Richard Gasquet last night and moves on to face Andy Murray on Saturday in the semifinals after a three-set victory 6-7 (12-14), 6-2, 6-1.
The Nadal/Gasquet was easily the best match of the $2.6 million dollar tournament thus far and fans knew they were in for a treat when the opening set went to a tiebreaker of epic proportions. Gasquet finally managed to capitalize on the sixth set point and the 26th point of the tiebreaker and ended the set which seemed to go on forever.
After the match, Richard Gasquet made no bones about the magical set saying that it was the best he has ever played.
“I was playing incredible, maybe my best set in my life,” he said. “But you have to win two sets to win (against) him. I had three breakpoints in the second set, and after it was really difficult for me. But he never miss. He has an incredible forehand and incredible backhand, physical, so it’s really, really hard to win him. I think he’s playing just incredible.”
After the match, Nadal said that while losing the first set was emotionally taxing, he still fought through to find his groove as the match wore on.
“He did well, especially in the first set,” he said. “Later I maybe improve a little bit the intensity, the rhythm.”
While Gasquet continued to play well in the second and third sets, it’s clear that he blinked against the dominating player in front of him and blamed fatigue as well as the Spaniard’s superior play for being the reason why.
“Yeah. I was a little bit tired, but I knew it was a really difficult for me to win the match because Rafael is just a good player and such a great fighter,” Gasquet said. I tried to play my game so I was a little bit tired. It was harder for me with my forehand, with my serve. I didn’t have easy points with him.”
Nadal now moves on to face Andy Murray in one of Saturday’s semifinals. Murray has never won against him and said that mentally, the world’s No. 2 player has no equal.
“The guy is playing unbelievable this year,” Murray said. “He’s hitting his forehand so well and he moves great and his mental strength is, I think, the best on the tour.”
Speaking of the best, while Roger Federer is still technically the No. 1 player in the world, Richard Gasquet agreed with Murray regarding Nadal’s position.
“Maybe, but in tennis, he’s the best for sure.”
When told of Gasquet’s high praise, Rafa shrugged it off.
“Thank you Richard for the words, no? But the ranking says I’m the No. 2, so I feel the No. 2.”
Maybe, but at the Rogers Cup and in the hearts of fans, the players he has faced and the players he will face… Nadal is clearly the man to beat.