'Rafael Nadal made me nervous,' Stefanos Tsitsipas recalls

“Rafael Nadal made me nervous,” recalls Stefanos Tsitsipas

Young savage Stefanos Tsitsipas put on an impressive run in Toronto 2018. Stefanos defeated Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic without losing serve and relied on Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. The German had the game in hand after opening a 6-3, 5-2 lead.

Still, it wasn’t to be for him after losing the lead and wasting two match points in the second set tiebreak. Stefanos prevailed 3:6, 7:6, 6:4 and advanced to the semifinals. Still a teenager, Stefanos became the youngest player with four top 10 wins in a single event since the ATP Tour’s inception in 1990!

The Greek saved another match point in a hard-fought 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 win over Kevin Anderson. Already amassing enough points to crack the top-20, Tsitsipas played against Rafael Nadal for the Masters 1000 title on his 20th birthday.

After a great week, the young Greek suffered a 6-2, 6-7 defeat to finish runners-up and is still making history. Stefanos had only clinched three games against Rafa in the title fight in Barcelona in April. He couldn’t find the recipe for success in Toronto, because the Spaniard got his 40th win out of 43 matches in 2018.

Stefanos picked up 12 points on the return and some of those came in the tenth game of set number two when he broke back to extend the set. The youngster earned a set point at 6-5 but squandered it, allowing Nadal to seal the deal in the tie-break.

It was a wonderful performance from Nadal up to 6-2, 5-4, sailing through his holds and dominating with his forehand. Despite this shaky phase in the latter part of the duel, he ended with 27 wins and 20 unforced errors, while Tsitsipas scored 15 direct points and 25 errors.

Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Rafael Nadal in Toronto 2018 after four top 10 wins.

Nothing could separate them in the shortest of rallies up to four shots and Rafa created the vital gap in the more challenging rallies of five to eight shots and those who hit the ninth shot.

The Spaniard got off to a strong start, dropping a point in four service games in the opener and earning two breaks in games three and five to make it 6-2. Tsitsipas suffered another break in the first game of the second set to leave Nadal in contention for the title at 5-4.

After scoring just three return points since the start of the clash, Stefanos showed his skill in that tenth game to pause at 30 and extend the action. The youngster had a set point of 6-5 and saved it with a lucky net, bringing the game home and gathering a boost before the tiebreak.

The Spaniard claimed it 7-4 with a forehand winner to seal the deal and start a big celebration. “I lost to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. It’s not easy to come back and play another final against him. I was a bit nervous and deliberate, which wasn’t the case in the previous games,” said Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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