Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had established the domination in Masters 1000 series in 2005 when they won eight out of nine titles, and a few years later they were joined by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, making it almost impossible to see some fifth player as the champion at that level for almost 10 years. One of the four chosen players was always at his best and we often saw the finals between two of them, leaving the rest of the field empty-handed. In Cinncinati 2009 we witnessed the full domination of the 'Big 4' as they all reached the semi-final, repeating that in Toronto a year later.
That Canada Masters is the main feature of this article and we will take a closer look at those semi-final encounters, with Andy Murray and Roger Federer prevailing over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to set up the final clash. In the first match of the day, Murray defeated Nadal 6-3 6-4 after an hour and 44 minutes, beating the Spaniard for the fourth time in 12 meetings and reaching his fifth Masters 1000 final. The Briton served at only 46% but Nadal was unable to take advantage of that, scoring just one break from six chances and failing to put Murray's second serve under more pressure.
Also, Andy was more aggressive and he managed to outplay the Spaniard in the baseline rallies, returning well to earn eight break points and converting three to seal the deal in straight sets, waiting for Novak or Roger in the title match. Murray held at 15 in the opening game of the match and Rafa responded with a hold at love in game two, hoping to reach the sixth final in the last seven tournaments, including three Masters 1000 titles and Roland Garros and Wimbledon crowns. Nonetheless, Andy was not to be denied that easily and he moved 2-1 ahead with a forehand winner in game three, creating his first break chance in the following game.
Nadal saved it to level the score at 2-2 but he was yet to show anything on the return, with Murray blasting an ace in game five for a 3-2 lead. That finally changed at 3-3 when Rafa forged two break chances, denied by a forehand winner from Andy and his poor shot from the same wing, wasting a huge chance to open up the advantage against the dangerous rival. The Briton managed to hold after a few deuces and he broke Nadal in the following game when the Spaniard netted a backhand, moving 5-3 up and serving for the set in the following game.
Four winners delivered the opener for Murray after 48 minutes, sealing the set with a powerful forehand and hoping for more of the same in set number two. With a lot of work to be done in order to get back into contention, Rafa held at love with a volley winner at the start of the second set but he found himself a set and a break down when he sprayed a backhand error in game three, with Murray confirming the break with an ace in game four. The Spaniard had no intention to give the match away and he earned two break points in game six that could have changed things in his favor.
He converted the second one with a forehand winner and the match was suddenly on, especially after great hold from Nadal that sent him 4-3 up. Andy struggled in those moments and he had to play against two break points in game eight as well, repelling both with aggressive attacks and holding with a service winner that drew the momentum back to his side of the court. Rafa had troubles to find his backhand the whole day long at it let him down again in game nine, getting broken at 15 and allowing Andy to serve for the match in the following game. A service winner pushed him over the top, completing a well-deserved win over the world number 1 and setting his eyes on the title.
In the quarter-final, Roger Federer barely escaped a defeat against Tomas Berdych (the Czech defeated him at Wimbledon as well), prevailing 7-5 in the deciding tie break to set up the 15th meeting with Novak Djokovic, the first since Basel last year. After two hours and 22 minutes, Roger earned his 10th win over the Serb and advanced to his fourth ATP final of the season thanks to a 6-1 3-6 7-5 win. Federer served at 58% and despite 11 aces he had to play against nine break points, repelling six to limit the damage in his games and giving his best on the return to erase that deficit.
Like only a few times in their matches, the Swiss had managed to take more than 45% of the points on Novak's serve, reducing the Djokovic's power on both the first and second serve and earning 12 chances. Five breaks were enough to push him over the finish line but Novak really gave his best to prolong the match as much as possible, recovering from a 4-1 deficit in the decider only to fall short in the last game of the match when he served for a tie break. They had an identical number of winners and the Serb made five unforced errors more, taking nine points less than his rival overall.
Roger had a clear advantage in the shortest points thanks to service winners and his potent first groundstroke but Novak stood strong in the longest rallies where he dominated with the rock solid groundstrokes and anticipation. Federer grabbed the first game with a service winner and he broke Novak at love in game two for a picture-perfect start. Three winners in the third game sent Roger 3-0 up, taking 12 of the opening 13 points of the match. Djokovic made a much-needed quick hold in game four but Roger was not to be denied in his games, firing an ace in game five to go 4-1 up after just 12 minutes!
Things went from bad to worse for Novak who sprayed a backhand error to lose serve again in game six, letting Roger close the set with three winners in the following game after just 26 minutes. Novak had just two winners and 16 errors and the only good thing for him was that he probably couldn't play worse than this. Well, that wasn't true after the opening game when he lost serve again thanks to a forehand error and Roger moved 2-0 ahead with another easy hold. Djokovic held after deuces in game three and that gave him the fuel to fight, breaking back in game four and holding at love a few minutes later for his first lead of the match.
Federer lost his momentum in those moments but he had a chance to move in front again, wasting a break point at 3-3 after a forehand error and another one before Novak brought the game home after almost 15 minutes! Roger's forehand broke down and he fired another one beyond the baseline to lose serve in game eight, repeating the same mistake in the next game when he had a break point. Novak closed the set with a forehand winner for a 6-3, playing much better than in the opening set and drawing more errors from his opponent who couldn't match his level from the opening set.
The Swiss was the first to make a move in the deciding set, breaking at love in game four to jump into a 3-1 lead and blasting a service winner in the following game to increase the advantage. Instead of another good hold, Roger wasted game points at 4-2 and Djokovic broke back with a backhand winner to reduce the deficit and get himself on the right side of the scoreboard. Federer ended his drought after more problems in game nine but Novak was on the run now, creating a couple of break points at 5-5 that could send him over the finish line.
Roger stayed focused to save them but Novak created another one after painting a forehand down the line winner after a 26-shot rally. Another service winner kept Roger in the match and another one delivered the game for him, forcing Novak to serve to stay in the match. The Serb fired a forehand winner to gain a game point but it wasn't to be for him, netting an easy forehand after a great defense from Roger to give his serve and the match away, sending Roger into the title match against Andy.
This news has been published by title ATP Rankings: Nadal Takes Big Lead Over Federer, Djokovic Back In Contention
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