Nadal never looked like rising up to the challenge posed by world no. 4 Nishikori as he was downed in two sets 6-2, 6-4. The Spaniard lacked concentration as he gave away no less than six double fouls, ceding the match in less than an hour and a half. This is the first time Nishikori managed to overcome the 14-time Grand Slam winner in eight matches.
The Japanese player is enjoying a great run as he won the title in Washington last week, and will be looking forward towards a back-to-back performance. He will face Britain’s Andy Murray, third seed in the tournament, in the semi-finals, after the latter defeated defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-4.
“I knew I have to be aggressive, so I have to change some tactics to play against Rafa. Everything was feeling well today. I felt like everything was going in. I mean, he’s still not maybe 100 per cent, but he’s Rafa” said Nishikori after the match.
On the other hand, Rafael Nadal continues his form struggle which saw him win only two titles this year, the Argentina Open and the Mercedes Cup. The former world no.1, even though still regarded as a top tier player, is now no.9 in ATP rankings and has had an off year, losing in the initial or middle rounds of many tournaments.
This was the first time Nadal played at the Masters, also known as the Rogers Cup or the Canadian Open, since he won the tournament in 2013 after a final against then-emerging home player Milos Raonic. The Spaniard won the tournament on three other ocassions, as he defeated German Nicolas Kiefer in 2008 and American legend Andre Agassi in 2005.
Also struggling in his match, but not on overall form was world leader Novak Djokovic, who was nearly knocked out by Latvian player Ernests Gulbis, eventually beating him 5-7, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1. Djokovic is looking for his fourth title at the Rogers Cup and his first since 2007.
The Serb will face off against surprise semifinalist Jeremy Chardy from France, world no.44, who reached this phase after defeating John Isner in a three hour thriller, with all sets ending in tie-breaks. This is the first time the frenchman has ever reached an ATP Masters semifinal, but will have to be at an astronomic level to defeat Djokovic, against who he has an 0-12 record.
strong>Image Source: AlJazeera