Rafael Nadal beat Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday in the Rogers Cup final, spoiling Raonic’s bid to become the first Canadian winner in the event in 55 years.
Robert Bedard, the last Canadian to win what was then called the Canadian Open in 1955, was in attendance to see Nadal claim his third Rogers Cup title. The Spanish star also won in 2005 and 2008.
”To win here, I have to be playing my top level,” Nadal said. ”Very happy the way that I played almost every match in this tournament. Is very important for me, this title. Just very happy for everything.”
Raonic was the first Canadian since the now 81-year-old Bedard even to reach the final.
”The tournament overall was a great thing,” Raonic said. ”There were a lot of situations that I’m very happy with the way I dealt with them, and there were a lot of learning experiences through it all.
”A lot of stepping stones that I need to do in my career happened this week, so that’s great. The match, obviously I’m a little disappointed with myself. I would have hoped to deal with that situation a little bit better.”
Nadal, playing his first tournament since a first-round loss at Wimbledon in June, posted his eighth tournament win this year and the 58th of his career. On Saturday night in the semifinals, Nadal beat two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2).
”I did a lot of things well,” Nadal said. ”My return was huge this afternoon. I returned a few first serves of his in important moments, decisive. Then I think he play with more mistakes than usual. That helped me.”
By reaching the final, the 22-year-old Raonic will move up to 10th in world rankings, a record for a Canadian. He will be the youngest player in the top 10. Nadal will move from fourth to third.
”With his serve, his chance to be in the top 10 for a long time is very good,” Nadal said. ”Then what you need is to work on the mental part and in the game from the baseline, to try to play the right way on the important points. I think he will do it. He’s still young. He’s having great results. This week is going to be very important for him and for tennis in Canada in general.”
Raonic has worn different colored Davis Cup-style shirts with a maple leaf over the heart all week, but saved a red-and-white one for the final. It didn’t help as Nadal needed just 1 hour, 8 minutes to win.
The Uniprix Stadium crowd was solidly behind Raonic throughout the one-sided match.
Nadal’s all-around game, particularly his superior passing shots and baseline play, proved too much for the power-hitting Raonic, who was only effective in games in which his booming serve was working.
On a windy afternoon, Nadal had two service breaks in the first set, including one after trailing 0-40, and broke again to open the second. At 2-1 in the second set, Raonic wasted three break points to let his best chance for a break slip away.
The Spaniard broke again for a 5-2 lead and served out the match.
Nadal is 4-0 against Raonic in his career.
Nadal stretched his record for wins in Masters series tournaments to 25 with his fourth this year. He is 48-3 and has reached the final of 10 out of 11 tournaments in 2013.
Raonic’s victory over Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., on Saturday marked the first time two Canadians were in the semifinals of an ATP Tour event since Andrew Sznajder and Martin Wosterholme in 1990 at Rio de Janeiro.
The last Canadian to get that far in the Rogers Cup, then called the Canadian Open, was Mike Belkin of Montreal in 1969.