Nadal advances to finals

August 13, 2005 10:00 PM
MONTREAL (AP) - Top-seeded Rafael Nadal advanced to the finals of the Rogers Cup with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over unseeded Paul-Henri Mathieu of France on Saturday.

The clay-court specialist, looking for his first hardcourt title, will face the winner of the second semifinal between Andre Agassi and Greg Rusedski, who won quarterfinal matches earlier in the day.

Nadal is No. 2 in the ATP rankings with eight titles this year, including the French Open, but all were on clay. The 19-year-old Spaniard reached the final of a hardcourt event in Miami in March, but lost in five sets to top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland.

Against Mathieu, who beat third-ranked Andy Roddick in the opening round, Nadal's most spectacular moment was on game point in the second set, when he lunged and chipped a backhand that fell behind the 23-year-old Frenchman to make it 2-2.

Mathieu made a string of unforced errors to lose his serve in the next game.

However, with Nadal serving for the match, Mathieu won four straight points to hand the Spaniard his first loss in 52 service games of the tournament and tie the set 5-5. Mathieu handed it back the next game, double-faulting on game point, and Nadal served out for his ATP-leading 64th match win of the season.

Fourth-seeded Agassi defeated sixth-seeded Gaston Gaudio of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in the completion of a quarterfinal that was postponed Friday night by rain. Agassi began the day ahead 6-3 and 15-15.

Rusedski, of Britain, needed just 67 minutes to beat Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia 6-3, 6-4.

Agassi and Rusedski were to play in the semifinals later Saturday.

Agassi said the sunny, windy conditions at Uniprix Stadium made it a difficult match.

``If it looked easy, I worked hard to make it look that way,'' he said at courtside. ``It was a tough match, especially in these conditions.''

Agassi won the Canadian event in 1992, 1994 and 1995, but had not advanced to the semifinals since 1999.

In doubles, third-seeded Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Mark Knowles of the Bahamas were eliminated in the quarterfinals, 4-6, 7-6 (8), 7-6 (4) by Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel. Nestor was playing in his first tournament since injuring his left wrist at the French Open.

Erlich and Ram were scheduled to meet Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S. later Saturday.

In the other doubles semifinal, Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe defeated Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.