Canada Flashback: Rafael Nadal secures 12th Masters 1000 crown over Nicolas Kiefer

In 2005, Rafael Nadal became a Major and Masters 1000 champion, winning 11 titles and passing everyone on the ATP ranking list except Roger Federer. In 2006 and 2007, Nadal remained the second-strongest link on the Tour, improving his game outside clay and reaching two Wimbledon finals. Ready to challenge Roger for the ATP throne, Nadal made a solid start to the 2008 season and exploded once the clay swing came to its turn. Between Monte Carlo and Toronto, the Spaniard would win seven titles from eight tournaments, including two Majors and three Masters 1000 titles that moved him closer to Roger Federer than ever before. Two weeks after that epic Wimbledon final, Rafa embraced the Canada Open campaign, seeking the first title at this event since 2005. The Spaniard beat Jesse Levine, Igor Andreev, Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray to sail into the final, with a massive chance of earning the title.

Rafael Nadal claimed the second Canada Open title in 2008 over Nicolas Kiefer.

Two years before he retired, Nicolas Kiefer advanced to his first Masters 1000 title clash following wins over Mardy Fish, Mikhail Youzhny, Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake and Gilles Simon for a career-best result at this level. The German battled for three hours against Simon in the semis and did not have much left in the tank for an in-form Nadal, who beat him 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and a half. Rafa lost 14 points in eight service games and fended off all three break chances to mount the pressure on the other side. Kiefer barely lost a point behind the first serve, but his problem was that he landed only 47% of the first serve in, struggling on the second serve and failing to defend any of four break points offered to Rafa.

The Spaniard tamed his strokes nicely and had a massive advantage in the most extended exchanges, taking 19 out of 22 to forge the victory and move in front of Pete Sampras, who stayed on 11 Masters 1000 titles. Nadal grabbed a break at 15 at 2-2 and held with ease to confirm the advantage and settle into a fine rhythm. The youngster closed the eighth game with an ace and grabbed four consecutive points on the return in the next one to take the opener 6-3. Nadal worked hard in the second set’s fifth game to fend off those three break points, bringing the game home after six deuces to keep the initial shot intact. He broke Kiefer in the next one to build the advantage and moved over the top with another break at 5-2 following a smash winner.