MONTREAL, 15 August 2005 — Top seed Rafael Nadal will bid for a third consecutive title on Sunday when he faces 35-year-old Andre Agassi in a battle of tennis generations at the Montreal Masters after both players advanced with straight set victories.
The Spanish teenager battled to a 6-4, 7-5 victory over unseeded Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, while fourth seeded American Agassi overcame Montreal-born Briton Greg Rusedski 6-4, 6-4.
“I am very happy because I’ll play against one of the best players in history,” Nadal said. “This is the opportunity to play against one of the legends of tennis before he retires.” With eight titles so far in 2005 including the French Open, the Spanish youngster improved his season record to 64-8, although he did lose a service game for the first time this week after 51 consecutive holds.
A winner of this event three times, Agassi captured the first of his 60 career titles when Nadal was just a year old.
“I’m looking forward to this match,” Agassi said. “To watch him play over the last few years has been enjoyable... what he means to the game and how he carries himself.
“I’ll have the best seat in the house.”
Victory over the 63rd-ranked Mathieu gave Nadal his 15th consecutive match win and the world No. 2 has lifted clay court titles at Bastad and Stuttgart since losing in the second round at Wimbledon in June.
The 19-year-old said that he felt the pressure during the second set game where he lost serve when serving for the match.
“It was the first time I was a little bit nervous in the tournament,” he said.
After both players were forced to complete their rain-delayed quarterfinals earlier in the day, Agassi eased past Rusedski with a single break in each set to record his eighth win in ten meetings with he Briton, sealing victory with a stylish volley.
Clijsters Sets Up Hantuchova Showdown in LA
In Los Angeles, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters maintained her bid for a fourth US hard court title of the season with a comfortable 6-2 6-4 victory over Italy’s Francesca Schiavone to ease into the Los Angeles Open final on Saturday.
On Sunday, the fifth-seeded Clijsters will line up against Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova, who reached her first final in more than a year with a 6-3, 6-4 upset of Russian third seed Elena Dementieva.
Clijsters improved her 2005 record on American hard courts to 24-1 by frustrating the Italian with her dogged retrieving and hard, well placed groundstrokes.
Despite delighting the crowd with her stylish play and loud yells, Schiavone was unable to offer enough variation to keep Clijsters at bay.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Clijsters, who has already picked up titles at Indian Wells, Miami and Stanford this year.
“She’s a great athlete, moves well and entertains the crowd. But on her higher balls, I was able to attack with my forehand and made her go for more than she wanted to.” Dementieva, who held a 6-2 record against Hantuchova before their match, praised the ninth seeded Slovakian on her assured performance.
“She moved me around very well and I was playing defensive all the time,” the Russian said. “She mixed up her serve and I couldn’t break her.” The 22-year-old Hantuchova cracked 20 winners and won 85 percent of her first serve points.
“I’ve played some tough matches against her in the past and have felt close to beating her,” she said. “I tried to step it up, go for my shots and be a little smarter. I’m really happy to get through to the final.”
Hantuchova, who last reached a final in Birmingham in 2004, said her new fitness regime was paying off.
“I’ve really been working on my movement,” she said. “That makes a lot of difference. “When I was under pressure I managed to hang in the points and it gave me a lot of confidence because I didn’t need to go for my shots so quickly.”
Srebotnik Upsets Myskina to Claim Nordic Light Open Title
In Stockhol, Sweden, Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia upset top-seeded Anastasia Myskina 7-5, 6-2 yesterday to claim her second WTA Tour title of the year at the Nordic Light Open.
Myskina, last year’s French Open winner, saved three match points in the final game before hitting a baseline forehand into the net to give Srebotnik the victory at Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium.
The 24-year-old Slovene, ranked 62nd in the world, capitalized on the Russian’s many unforced forehand errors and sloppy serving.
Srebotnik broke her opponent six times, including in the last game of the first set when the 14th-ranked Myskina hit another forehand into the net when down 15-40.
“Sorry I beat you,” Srebotnik said to Myskina, “but I wanted to win this one really bad.”
It was the second upset of the day for Srebotnik, who finished off a semifinal win against the third-seeded Vera Douchevina just four hours before the final.
The semifinal was suspended Saturday because of heavy rain with Srebotnik leading 6-0, 6-5, but she only needed to play five points before winning the second set 7-5.
“It’s been a great week, we had some trouble with the weather, but we made it,” Srebotnik said after receiving a crystal trophy from Swedish tennis great Bjorn Borg.
Myskina, who played her first WTA final of the year, had been the favorite to win her 10th tour title after Wimbledon champion Venus Williams withdrew because of the flu.