Rafael Nadal downs Stefanos Tsitsipas to win Toronto Masters

1 / 3
Rafael Nadal displays the Rogers Cup championship trophy after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the finals on Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Aviva Centre. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
2 / 3
Stefanos Tsitsipas returns a ball to Rafael Nadal during the championship in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
3 / 3
Rafael Nadal returns a ball to Stefanos Tsitsipas during the championship in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 13 August 2018
0

Rafael Nadal downs Stefanos Tsitsipas to win Toronto Masters

  • Victory gave the 32-year-old Spaniard a record-extending 33rd trophy at the elite Masters level as well as his 80th title
  • Nadal added the Canadian honour to the titles he won in 2005, 2008 and 2013

TORONTO: 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 (7/4) 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.
However Nadal later raised doubts about he would be chasing an 81st title at next week's event in Cincinnati, refusing to confirm that he would play the event as scheduled.
"Will I play in Cincinnati? I can't answer to you right now," Nadal said.
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."
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 number one 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.


Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

Updated 21 July 2019
0

Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

  • Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall
  • Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics under the refugee flag

GWANGJU, South Korea: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who almost drowned at sea fleeing her war-torn country four years ago, heaved a deep sigh after failing to set a personal best at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Representing FINA’s independent athletes team, the 21-year-old looked up at the giant scoreboard and winced at her time of 1min 8.79sec in the 100 meters butterfly heats in South Korea.
“I’m not very happy actually,” Mardini told AFP.
“I had some problems with my shoulder but I’m back in training. I still have the 100m freestyle and I’m looking forward to that.”
Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall, but she has come a long way since risking her life crossing from Izmir in Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the summer of 2015.
Thirty minutes into that treacherous journey, the motor on their dinghy cut out and the tiny vessel, carrying 20 people rather than the six or seven it was designed for, threatened to capsize.
As the only people who could swim, Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped into the water to push and pull the stricken dinghy for over three hours until they finally reached the shore.
“I arrived in Greece in only jeans and a T-shirt,” said Mardini, who also swims in the 100m freestyle later this week. “Even my shoes were gone.”
Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics a year later under the refugee flag.
“In the beginning I refused to be in a refugee team because I was afraid people would think I got the chance because of my story,” said Mardini, who now lives with her family in Berlin.
“I wanted to earn it. But then I realized I had a big opportunity to represent those people — so I took the chance and I never regretted it,” she added.
“Rio was amazing. It was really exciting to see the reaction of people to the team. Now I’m representing millions of displaced people around the world and it really makes me proud.”
It is a far cry from life back in Syria, where rocket strikes would often shake the pool she trained at in Damascus.
“There were bomb attacks sometimes that would crack the windows around the pool,” said Mardini, who has addressed the United Nations general assembly and whose story is set to be told in a Hollywood movie.
“We were scared the whole time.”
Fellow Syrian Ayman Kelzieh was also forced to flee the country before competing at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Returning to Korea five years later, the 26-year-old now owns a fistful of national swim records, including the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly.
“When the war started I had just moved to Damascus and I couldn’t get back home to Aleppo,” said Kelzieh, who now lives on the Thai island of Phuket.
“But even in Damascus bombs sometimes even went off at the swimming pool we trained at,” he added after taking a poolside selfie with his idol, South African star Chad le Clos.
“There were even attacks at the hotel I stayed in — I was lucky.”