TORONTO // Even as Jelena Jankovic missed out on an opportunity to reach the rankings' summit in the WTA, the men's world number two Rafael Nadal kept his hopes alive to unseat Roger Federer at the top. The Spaniard battled to a scrappy 7-6, 6-3 win over Briton Andy Murray to set up a Toronto Masters final against the resurgent German Nicolas Kiefer, whom Nadal beat at the Wimbledon this year.
Nadal, playing his first event since his epic win over Federer in the Wimbledon final, has made a smooth transition from grass to the North American hardcourts. The Spaniard's victory stretched his winning streak to 28 matches and left him on course for a fifth consecutive title following wins at Wimbledon, Queen's, Roland Garros and Hamburg. "My only expectation is to try and play a good match, and if possible win the title," said Nadal.
"I said when I arrive here I don't think about number one, I don't think about the hardcourt season or US Open or Olympics, I think about Toronto. "Toronto is very important tournament. It's the first big tournament on hard after the clay and grass court seasons, so my goal is to try to play a good tournament here." Standing in Nadal's way is the experienced Kiefer, who outlasted an in-form Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 to continue his bid for his first ATP title since 2000.
Kiefer, 31, needed all his experience and three hours to beat his opponent. Once ranked as high as world number four, Kiefer has produced some of his old form in Toronto, knocking out seeds Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake and Mikhail Youzhny on his way to the semi-finals. "It was a very close match," said Kiefer. * Reuters