TORONTO – It’s very rare that you get to see a player achieve the No. 1 status right in front of your eyes, but that is exactly what happened for fans and players alike at the 2008 Rogers Cup.
Rafael Nadal did the expected and quickly disposed of Nicolas Kiefer in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) on Sunday afternoon, finally displaying the form that everyone expected from him following his Wimbledon win.
Before the tournament, many expected a Wimbledon rematch between Nadal and current world No. 1 Roger Federer, but hopes of that were dashed after Federer was sent packing in his first match against Gilles Simon on Wednesday. Really, the question of the tournament became not whether Rafael Nadal would win but rather who it would be against.
While many can say that that there was deflating feeling about Sunday’s final, this would clearly be in error as the match served as a Canadian coronation for the announcement of Nadal’s impending No. 1 status. It would be fair to say that Nadal made a believer out of anyone who saw him play in Toronto.
As he has often stated (and restated) many times during the tournament, Nadal said that the No. 1 ranking was not only mind as he continued to focus just on winning tournaments and titles.
“For me No. 2 was very important, and I was very happy (to) be the No. 2. Because with my titles, with my points, in a normal situation I, well would have been No. 1 before,” Nadal said. “So I think I have to be happy, very happy anyway if I am No. 1 or No. 2.”
After both players held serve to open the first four games of the match, Nadal took the advantage when his German opponent double-faulted in the fifth game of the first set. The Spaniard broke Kiefer again in the eighth game, giving him a one-set lead.
Ironically enough, the fifth game of the second set also proved to critical if not decisive. After the players each held serve twice, the fifth game appeared to be deadlocked as neither man would budge or give an inch. The game featured six deuces and Kiefer had three break chances, but just couldn’t close as Nadal held on to take a 3-2 advantage.
After the match, Nadal said that the break in the second set was critical.
“Well, when I have the break in the second set it was very important, no?” I was feeling comfortable with my serve. Only that game I have problems. For the rest he was feeling good with the serve,” Nadal said. “When I had the break, I feel I am very close.”
At a post-game press conference, the Rogers Cup runner-up said that there wasn’t just one reason as to why he lost against Nadal.
“I mean, it’s not only my serve, he was struggling with his game,” Kiefer said. “I think also the rest — everybody tries to beat him, but I mean, he’s a great competitor and he never gives up.”
Kiefer, obviously both physically and emotionally drained from the losing rally did not recover and could not win another game as Nadal broke him in the sixth game, held onto serve in the seventh and broke him again in the eighth, giving him the victory.
The Rogers Cup was Nadal’s 30th ATP title and sixth championship of the season. It was also his fifth consecutive final appearance.
The Rogers Cup champion won $420,000 for the victory.
In the doubles championship, Canadian Daniel Nestor was victorious along with partner Nenad Zimonjic beating the Bryan brothers, 6-2, 4-6, 10-6.
The Rogers Cup tournament was a big success for Tennis Canada and tournament organizers. More than 150,000 people walked through the gates of the Rexall Centre to watch the Rogers Cup live and Sunday’s sold-out attendance was marked at 10,610. In total, there was $10.7 million stadium sales, which is a new record.
Tournament director Karl Hale said that he couldn’t be happier.
“Our record ticket sales and attendance that could have been a record without those rain delays early in the week show the power of tennis and the power of the stars in tennis. We’re very happy with the results with all of that kept in consideration.”
The Rogers Cup now moves to Montreal for the women’s tournament which started yesterday and will run until August 3rd.