TORONTO – In the end, Rafael Nadal made the final and that’s really all that matters.
The soon-to-be No. 1 player in the world was pushed to the limit by his semi-final opponent Andy Murray last night, but managed to squeak by with a 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory.
Nadal’s play has clearly improved since his opening match against Jesse Levine but said after the match that each game and each point is different.
” Every match is completely different. I play against very good Andy today because he — my opinion he played one of his best matches against me,” he said. “So I did very good, no? I played a very good tennis for that reason, and finally I have the victory.”
While Andy Murray has never won against the Spaniard, he played a very impressive and aggressive game and said that he has no regrets about his stint in Toronto or his recent hard court dominance.
” Yeah, this is my favorite surface. You know, I said that all the time. I said I feel I play consistently well on it, and my results in the bigger tournaments would suggest that,” he said.
Murray did admit that there are still leaders in the currently-stacked men’s tennis circuit but that he is on the cusp of joining the best… especially on hard court.
“You know, obviously I think Federer and Nadal and Djokovic are still the big favorites going into all the top tournaments, but I think I’m in the pack behind them,” Murray said. “I’m one of the best on this surface, and I can push those guys when I play my best. I got a chance of winning the tournaments, but definitely I’m an outsider.”
Murray said that Nadal is playing at a level that no one else can compete with right now and added his name to Boris Becker’s and Richard Gasquet’s by agreeing with them that Rafael Nadal is the best player in the world.
“You know, he’s definitely doing a lot of things better than he was in the past. I think he’s moving better on hard courts, and I think, you know, he’s sort of changing the pace of the ball a little bit more and not playing so far behind the baseline like he did in the past,” Murray said. “So I think his game, in terms of the way that he hits the ball, hasn’t changed a whole a lot. I just think the way that he moves and returns on the quicker courts is much better than it was before. That’s why I think he’ll be No. 1 in the world soon.”
In the day’s other semifinal, Nicolas Kiefer was victorious against the tournament’s biggest surprise, Gilles Simon 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in a three-hour marathon. The game was as close as it could get and after the match, Simon said that he had no regrets about everything he was able to accomplish at the Rogers Cup, including ousting Roger Federer and Marin Cilic.
“I was never scared about the player I will play. Never. If it’s Federer or Nadal, that’s not the problem,” Simon said. “When I am in good shape like this, I know that I’m able to defeat them, so I am always playing to win the match.”
Nicolas Kiefer said that he is ready for the final.
“Many things I can do better, improve, but I think these are also the challenges you are practicing and living for: to play against the best players in the world. If it’s Roger or if it’s Rafa, it’s never easy, but you try to compete and try to do your best.
The men’s final match takes place on Sunday afternoon.