Nadal eyes second straight Canadian crown

Montreal: Rafael Nadal is homing in on a second straight ATP title in Canada after reaching the Montreal Masters final without hitting a shot on Saturday.

The top-seeded world number two was handed an extra day of rest when Montreal open  Gael Monfils withdrew from their semi-final — scheduled to start just hours after the French player defeated Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) in a rain-delayed quarter-final.

Nadal will aim for his fifth Canadian trophy on Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev, who dominated Russian compatriot Karen Khachanov 6-1, 7-6 (8/6). Monfils and Bautista, rained out on Friday night, were delayed a further two and a half hours by rain on Saturday.

Although 16th-seeded Monfils out-lasted the Spaniard, he rolled his ankle in the process. A few hours to prepare for Nadal was too much for the French showman — especially with the US Open coming up at Flushing Meadows this month. “I was happy that I fought no matter what. As I say, I felt good this week, tried to give my best,” Monfils said. “I showed that I’m still a fighter. I love these matches, night session, I play tennis for the big moments, big shows. But maybe it was the safest decision not to play.” Monfils said he felt his ankle early in the second set.

“At 6-4, 2-1 I had a pain moving backwards, my ankle was already painful, I hurt it again,” he said. “It was OK because I was able to run a lot in the next game. But very quickly you could see that physically I was not fit as I was at the beginning of the week. In the third set, I only played on my service games. On return games, I didn’t have enough energy to win. I was afraid for my ankle,” added Monfils who lifted a title in Rotterdam this season but retired injured in the first round at Wimbledon.

Medvedev won the first Masters 1000 semi-final ever played between a pair of Russians to line up a first career meeting with Nadal. “It’s extra special, but there is some extra pressure,”

Medvedev said, noting that he’s played matches against Nadal’s fellow superstars Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. “But this is what I have been working for all my life. I would never expect to play against them (the ATP elite), especially in the finals of a Masters 1000. I won’t be intimidated. I want to win every match I play.”