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Nadal vs Khachanov tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal closes in on first Canada Masters final in five years as he faces powerful but limited Khachanov

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 11 Aug 2018
  • Rafael Nadal faces Karen Khachanov in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup
  • Nadal vs Khachanov is live from Toronto on Saturday at 8pm local/1am BST
Rafael Nadal (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal is out to make the 49th Masters 1000 Series final of his career as he takes on rising Russian Karen Khachanov at the Rogers Cup on Saturday.

After a comeback win over Marin Cilic, world no. 1 Rafael Nadal is closing in on his first Canada Masters final appearance for five years with only the untested Karen Khachanov standing in his way.

Coming into the American hard-court season off the back of another tremendously successful clay-court season which saw him win Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and an eleventh French Open title, and his deepest run at Wimbledon for some years before losing in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic, Nadal has been tested by some tough opponents in his first appearance in Toronto in eight years.

Nadal celebrates victory over Marin Cilic (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
After a first-round bye and a straightforward opening match against Benoit Paire, Nadal had to take on Stan Wawrinka in the third round and weather some patches of unplayable, if not sustained, brilliance from the three-time Grand Slam champion before securing a 7-5, 7-6(4) victory. Then he was very nearly blown off the court by Marin Cilic before surviving a tough quarterfinal encounter with the Australian Open runner-up on Friday.

The excellence of Cilic’s way in the first set cannot be overstated, with the powerful Croatian racing to a double-break, 5-1 lead with an unstoppable display of power tennis that recalled the way that he blasted to the US Open title in 2014. But such brilliance is hard to sustain – especially in the face of the smothering pressure Nadal is able to exert from the baseline, forcing opponent to hit ball after ball, chasing everything down and sending it back with interest. Even though Cilic took the first set 6-2, he had to work very hard for it near the end, with Nadal saving five set points at 1-5 before the Croatian served it out. 

That effort took the edge of Cilic’s momentum, and as the second set began the match became much more of a dogfight – exactly to Nadal’s liking. Cilic fought hard, but late breaks in the second and third sets secured a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory for the Spaniard – some revenge for being dragged to five sets by Cilic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January, a match that ended with Nadal’s retirement.

‘The way that he played in that first set was unstoppable,’ Nadal said. ‘So I resisted him. I play with the right tactics. I tried to find my solutions, but it was so difficult. The dynamic was very bad for me and unbelievable good for him. So I know that the beginning of the second set would be decisive.

‘And then at 2-1, I had that break where he missed couple of balls and was the first time in the match that he made some mistakes. Maybe that was a key moment. And of course that last game of the second set that he was up 40/15, and he made two mistakes. So yeah.’

The victory put Nadal into the Canada Masters semifinals for the first time since 2013, and the first time in Toronto since all the way back in 2008 (Nadal won his third Rogers Cup title in 2013, but it was held in Montreal that year). It’s also Nadal’s first hard-court Masters 1000 Series semifinal of the season, having missed Indian Wells and Miami due to the injury he sustained at the Australian Open, and only his second non-clay semifinal of 2018 after Wimbledon.

Having had such tough opponents in Wawrinka and Cilic just to reach the semifinals, Nadal will relish the prospect of what should be a more straightforward match against the inexperienced Russian Karen Khachanov.

Karen Khachanov  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
22-year-old Khachanov’s run to the semifinals has been a bit overshadowed by the more sensational exploits of fellow ‘Next Gen’ player Stefanos Tsitsipas this week, but it represents a significant milestone for Khachanov. 

Currently ranked world no. 38, Khachanov won the first ATP World Tour title of his career two years ago in Chengdu when ranked outside the world’s top 100, and broke into the top 50 after reaching the fourth round of the French Open in 2016. Ranked as high as world no. 29 this time last year after reaching the round of 16 at the Cincinnati Masters, Khachanov won his second ATP World Tour title on indoor hard courts in February in Marseille and reached the fourth rounds of both the French Open and Wimbledon.

Khachanov started his Rogers Cup campaign with a win over last year’s Paris Masters runner-up Filip Krajinovic and went on to knock out 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, eighth seed John Isner and then Robin Haase – who beat Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov earlier in the tournament – all without dropping a set. 

Nadal and Khachanov have played three times before and all three have gone the way of the Spaniard in fairly one-sided straight sets – and they haven’t all been on clay either, with the two meeting on grass at Wimbledon last summer and on hard courts in Beijing last October when Nadal won 6-3, 6-3. Khachanov is an extremely powerful and clean ball-striker, but what he isn’t is a great mover, and as such he frequently ends up exposed by Nadal. The Russian has been on a great run in Toronto, but it’s hard to see what he can do to avoid suffering the same fate in his first Masters 100 Series final that he has undergone in all his other matches against Nadal.

Nadal vs Khachanov semifinal tennis is live from Toronto on Saturday at 8pm local/1am BST

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Nadal vs Khachanov tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal closes in on first Canada Masters final in five years as he faces powerful but limited Khachanov

Rafael Nadal vs Karen Khachanov live streaming, preview and predictions for the Rogers Cup Toronto semifinal match on Saturday 11 August 2018: Nadal to maintain perfect record against first-time Masters 1000 Series semifinalist Khachanov

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