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Nadal vs Wawrinka tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal and Wawrinka meet for the first time since the 2017 French Open final

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 9 Aug 2018
  • Rafael Nadal faces Stan Wawrinka in the third round of the Canada Masters on Thursday
  • Nadal vs Wawrinka is live from Toronto on Thursday at 8pm local/1am BST
Rafael Nadal (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

In the latest instalment of a rivalry that has graced Grand Slam finals, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka face off for a place in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Meeting for the first time since the 2017 French Open final, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka clash in the last 16 at the Canada Masters on Thursday.

Nadal and Wawrinka after the 2017 French Open final (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
It’s been an eventful 14 months for both Nadal and Wawrinka since the two men faced off for the nineteenth time in the final of Roland Garros in June 2017. Nadal won that match one-sidedly 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 to avenge his loss to Wawrinka in the Australian Open final in 2014 and claim his tenth French Open title – La Decima – going on to win the US Open in August and finish the season world no. 1, a ranking he’s retained despite a spell of injury in the first quarter of the year after another sensational clay-court season led to an eleventh Roland Garros crown and his best Wimbledon finish for some years, a narrow semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic.

Nadal has some claim, in other words, to be in as good a position as he has ever been on the ATP World Tour at the age of 32, and made a bright start to his first appearance in Toronto since 2010 with a win over Benoit Paire on Wednesday, maintaining his perfect record against the Frenchman. Nadal dropped serve three times in the second set, but the outcome was never remotely in doubt as he broke Paire’s serve six times throughout the match and wrapping up a 6-3, 6-2 win.

‘I think I played a solid match. It's true that with myself in the second set I had some troubles, but my return worked well. And it was not about the serve. It was more about the mistakes from the baseline, in my opinion,’ Nadal said.

‘Here it's important to be on the rhythm. It's important to play matches. It's not about tricks. It's about playing well. These tournaments are so hard. Since the beginning you play against the Top 50 players. So it's a big test from the real first round, no?... You need to be ready. And today I found a way to be through, and let's try again tomorrow.’

Stan Wawrinka (KEVIN VAN PAASSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
For Wawrinka, the past 14 months have been a very different story. Ranked as high as world no. 3 when he made that French Open final, the fourth Grand Slam final of his career and the first that he’s lost, Wawrinka would play two more matches – on grass, and losing both – before shutting down his 2017 season for good after a first-round defeat to Daniil Medvedev at Wimbledon. He underwent two knee surgeries – one arthroscopic, one not – and was on crutches throughout the autumn in an attempt to correct a knee issue which had been a problem for years. 

The comeback has, unsurprisingly, been a stuttering affair. Wawrinka attempted to come back at the Australian Open in January and did win a match but it was clearly too soon and after a handful of matches, mainly defeats, at indoor events in February, Wawrinka didn’t play again until clay. He went 1-3 on that surface and 2-3 on grass, and the fact that he managed to lose to Andy Murray in Eastbourne (Murray being perhaps the only player in worse shape than Wawrinka himself at the time) but beat Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon says everything about how up and down, how unreliable and unpredictable, his fitness, form and energy levels have been. 

It is, perhaps, questionable whether Wawrinka would have pulled himself together after losing a woeful first set in Toronto 1-6 and gone on to win, had he been facing a player he had less history with than Nick Kyrgios. But he did, winning the second and third sets 7-5, 7-5 as Kyrgios struggled with injury issues of his own – and then, more surprisingly, backed it up with a  tough, hard-fought victory over Marton Fucsovics for his first back-to-back wins since February, saving four match points in the third-set tie-break to beat the Hungarian 1-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(10). 

This will be the twentieth meeting between Nadal and Wawrinka, and it’s pretty difficult to see Wawrinka winning it. While the dynamic between the two has become more of a rivalry than it once was – Nadal won the first 12 they played, but it’s a much more even 4-3 in the Spaniard’s favour since Wawrinka’s late-career bloom began in 2014 when he beat Nadal to win the Australian Open – Wawrinka simply doesn’t appear in shape to win this match. We know Wawrinka is capable of just about anything, but Nadal is no Dimitrov and he should be able to withstand and outlast whatever lightning storms of brilliance Wawrinka is able to unleash. Expect the top seed to book his place in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup once more. 

Nadal vs Wawrinka third-round tennis is live from Toronto on Thursday at 8pm local/1am BST

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Nadal vs Wawrinka tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Nadal and Wawrinka meet for the first time since the 2017 French Open final

Rafael Nadal vs Stan Wawrinka live streaming, preview and predictions for the Rogers Cup Toronto third-round match on Thursday 9 August 2018: Wawrinka is 3-4 vs Nadal over the past four years, but has only just won back-to-back matches for the first time since February

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