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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Rafael Nadal withdraws from Cincinnati after lifting Rogers Cup

World No 1 issues statement apologising to fans, saying, 'no other reason than trying to keep as healthy as I feel now'

Rafael Nadal clinched his 10th title on Sunday as he bids for a second straight US Open title. Reuters
Rafael Nadal clinched his 10th title on Sunday as he bids for a second straight US Open title. Reuters

Rafael Nadal held off a late surge from birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim the 80th title of his career with victory at the Toronto Masters on Sunday.

Nadal overcame a second set fightback from Greek youngster Tsitsipas to claim a 6-2, 7-6 victory in just under 1hr 45mins.

The win gave the 32-year-old Spaniard a record-extending 33rd trophy at the elite Masters level as well as his 80th title.

He then withdrew from next week's ATP Cincinnati Masters event as he prepares for this month's US Open, saying he had decided to adjust his schedule in order to preserve his fitness.

"I am very sorry to announce that I won't be playing in Cincinnati this year," Nadal said. "No other reason than personally taking care of my body and trying to keep as healthy as I feel now.

Earlier, a vocal crowd of local flag-waving Greek fans had sang 'Happy Birthday' to the 20-year-old Tsitsipas as Nadal reflected on a successful campaign.

"I feel I've improved every match, it's important to win even if you're not at your best," Nadal said as he prepares for the US Open later this month.

"It's been almost 10 years [2010] since I last played in Toronto," Nadal said of the event which comes to the city in even-number years as it trades with Montreal. "This trophy means a lot."

The loss concluded the tennis week of his life for Tsitsipas, who beat four Top 10 opponent in a row to reach the final.

"It's been an amazing week for me," he said. "This trophy means a lot after playing my first Masters 1000 final.

"Rafa is amazing, he never cracks. He will always grab you like a bulldog and he will always make you suffer on the court.

"He was [once] normal like all of us, and he managed to become this beast, this monster that he is today.

"That's how you feel when you play against him."

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Read more:

Timing of Roger Federer's comeback could help fuel strong US Open run

Rafael Nadal 'motivated every day' as he reaches Rogers Cup summit clash

Veteran Rod Laver leads Australia's tennis heroes in Davis Cup reform fight

Alexander Zverev: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal 'are still best out there'

Roger Federer's Rogers Cup pull-out means less preparation for US Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas likened Rafael Nadal to a bulldog for his tenacity on the court. EPA
Stefanos Tsitsipas likened Rafael Nadal to a bulldog for his tenacity on the court. EPA

Tsitsipas 'hungry for more'

Tsitsipas is taking the lesson he learned on court to heart: "I'm really hungry for more. I believe I can achieve much more this year.

"Although I lost today, I feel like I can still beat good players. I really want to make more points this year and get the best out of myself."

Nadal added the Canadian honour to the titles he won in 2005, 2008 and 2013.

The final featured a plot twist at the end, with Nadal broken while serving for victory leading a set and 5-4.

Tsitsipas would not buckle, making it 5-5 as Nadal hit the net, with the set finally going into a tiebreaker.

Nadal regained control, earning a match point on a Tsitsipas forehand error.

The Spanish world No 1 concluded victory with a forehand winner deep into the corner.

He now owns five titles this season and has clinched the first spot in the year-end finals in London.