By Dave Seminara
Last year, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were ousted in the quarterfinals, as the top 8 players in the world all square off for the 1st time in tennis history. Today, both Federer and Nadal dropped sets, but both ultimately prevailed.
Philipp Kohlschreiber took the 1st set off of Rafa Nadal in their QF encounter, and looked as though he might have a shot at sending the Mallorcan brawler off to Ohio on a sour note. But the 2010 Nadal isnâ€™t the same player who launched his comeback at the Rogers Cup last summer. At that time, no one knew if Rafa would ever regain his pre-tendinitis form, but this afternoon in Toronto, Nadal showed once again that he is back on top of the tennis world. On a hot, humid day, Nadal seemed to gain strength as the match wore on, and finally prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Kohlschreiber proved to be a worthy opponent, however. Â He played aggressively, showing off a backhand volley that was reminiscent of the crisp gems that Stefan Edberg used to punch deep into the corners of the court. Â But Nadal ultimately wore him down, like a prizefighter working an opponent over with body blows that took a toll over the course of a three set bout.
Andy Murray had no problem whatsoever in routing David Nalbandian, who won the Legg Mason in Washington last week, but looked disinterested today, 6-2, 6-2, and will face Nadal in the first semi-final on Saturday at 3pm EST.
The shot that saved the night, and possibly the tournament for Roger Federer was probably his most feeble offering of the week. Down 5-3 in the 3rd set Federer was a dead-duck, standing at the net just waiting for Tomas Berdych to pulverize a passing shot right by him. But Fed lunged after it, like a man trying to cover a lost $100 bill in a hurricane, and got just a piece of the ball on the backhand side. The result was a harmless little pop-fly that just dunked across the net with a heavy backspin bite that drew it close to the net. Berdych made a mad dash for it, but pushed the pass wide, and a point later, Federer had broken serve to level the match.
Federerâ€™s 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) win was anything but routine, yet there were some familiar themes. Fed started strong, lost the plot in the 2nd and 3rd sets, and then just hung around, waiting for his opponent to cool off, before finally prevailing.Â The win will no doubt be sweet for Roger, after having lost to Berdych at Wimbledon, but heâ€™ll need to step up his level of play to beat Novak Djokovic, his likely opponent in the second semi-final, which will be played at 7pm EST tomorrow. Â Federer acknowledged that he was a â€œbit luckyâ€ after the match, and said that the win was â€œsomewhere in the top 100â€ of his all-time greatest wins. â€œYou have to remember,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ve played a lot of great matches.â€
Favorite Nadal quotes of the day:
â€œSo I happy to be in semifinal and now I want to enjoy the match tomorrow and gonna be difficult. Well, I hope be ready to play my best tennis and try to have chances.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Everything change. The mind change in every minute, I think.â€
â€œBut I want to be with Super Glue, because You know four months ago, I was, never gonna, everybody says Rafa, I donâ€™t know, never gonna be another time on the top, and now I am the best.â€