Rafael Nadal battles through to Japan Open final

Saturday, October 9, 2010
Rafael Nadal
Nadal punches the air in joy and relief after clinching victory over Troicki

World number one Rafael Nadal had to save two match points before beating Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (9-7) to reach the Japan Open final.
It took Nadal over two and a half hours to see off his Serbian opponent, who hit 26 aces during the match.
The Spaniard next faces fifth seed Gael Monfils, who had a much easier passage as he beat Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-3.
"I played well in the first set, but then I lost my concentration," Nadal said afterwards.
"The season is long and we compete with a lot of pressure, so it is easy to lose your concentration. That is what happened."
Troicki served for the match at 6-5 in the deciding set but he double-faulted, missed an easy volley and hit a forehand into the net to squander the opportunity.
Despite that, the Serb retained his composure for the tie-break and had match points at 6-5 and 7-6 before Nadal finally took it 9-7.
In Sunday's final, Nadal will be seeking his seventh title of the year, having won Wimbledon, the US Open and four tournaments on clay.
He will start as a firm favourite having won six out of seven previous meetings with Monfils - his sole defeat coming in Qatar last year.
But the Frenchman said: "I'm very motivated. I know it's going to be hard, but if I have a small opportunity I will take it."
Gale Monfils in Tokyo
Monfils has the chance to improve a poor career record against Nadal
Monfils knocked out Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals and after saving a break point in the sixth game against Stepanek, broke his Czech opponent twice in a row to take control of the match.
He wrapped things up after only 70 minutes on court to avenge a defeat by Stepanek in Brisbane at the beginning of the year.
"I had a shoulder problem then and I couldn't serve 100 per cent. I came out today much stronger. That made the difference," said Monfils.
"I am playing better and better. I change my game every day. Some days I'm defensive, some days I'm aggressive. Some times I'm on the net too much."


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