TORONTO – Spanish world No. 1 Rafael Nadal gave Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece an unwanted 20th birthday present on Sunday in the final of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
It was Nadal’s fourth time to win the tourney – and his 80th title overall, a figure attained only by Switzerland’s Roger Federer and by Americans Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.
It took Nadal an hour and 43 minutes to down his rival 6-2, 7-6 (4), frustrating Tsitsipas’s title hopes in his first Masters 1000 final, hopes that had bloomed after he had left four top 10 challengers in the dust – South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, Austria’s Dominic Thiem, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Germany’s Alexander Zverev – thereby becoming the youngest player ever to beat four top 10 challengers in a single tourney.
But he couldn’t find the formula to get past Nadal, although it seemed at first that he might be able to mount a comeback in the final games of the second set and force a third.
Nadal, 32, had lost the first game of the first set, but handily won the next five. And in the second set, the Greek – who turned 20 on Sunday – although he battled hard to turn things around, ultimately fell in a tiebreak.
The Spaniard made it to the final after his quarterfinals victory on Friday night over Croatia’s seventh-ranked Marin Cilic and his semifinals win on Saturday over 22-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov, who had routed the Netherlands’ Robin Haase 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
Earlier on Sunday, Romania’s Simona Halep overcame the tenacious resistance of America’s Sloane Stephens, ranked No. 3, to win the women’s Montreal tourney title, which she also had won two years ago.
Halep needed three sets – 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4 – and two hours and 39 minutes to knock off the US player, whom she had defeated in the Roland Garros final two months ago.
Halep, who won the tourney in 2016 after getting to the final but losing in 2015, and being knocked out in the semifinals last year, added her third title this year – after wins at Shenzhen and Roland Garros – to make 18 career triumphs.
Meanwhile, Stephens, who won in Miami and was a finalist in Paris, seemed to fumble the match each time she managed to gain some measure of control over the flow of play.
Although she went behind 4-1 in the first set, Stephens had battled back to challenge her rival, but ultimately lose, in a tiebreak. She then, however, nicely won the second set, and was running even in the first four games of the third when Halep managed to break her serve and pulled out ahead 4-2, after which the Romanian never looked back until the match was in the bag.
The Rogers Cup is one of the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events and a key tune-up for the US Open, which gets under way on Aug. 27.