Sports

Federer, Djokovic to meet in Rogers final

Novak Djokovic of Serbia upset the best laid plans, beating Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Saturday evening to advance to the final against Roger Federer.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia upset the best laid plans, beating Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Saturday evening to advance to the final against Roger Federer.

Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, utilized his big serve to top the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3 in a match that lasted one hour, 40 minutes.

Nadal had won five of the previous six meetings between the two, but is now 1-2 against the young Serbian on hard courts.

"I had extra motivation," Djokovic told Brenda Irving of CBC Sports after the match. "Whenever you play Nadal or Federer you get extra motivation because you don't have anything to lose."

Djokovic, just 20, has rocketed into the top five on the men's tour with a 48-12 record this year, including semifinal berths at the French Open and Wimbledon.

The match turned on his serve. Nadal went 0-for-8 on break chances, with Djokovic holding an 11-2 advantage in aces.

Service winner

The players were on serve 5-5 in the first set when Djokovic fought off three Nadal break points, finishing the game with a service winner.

Just like his match with Canadian Frank Dancevic the previous night, Nadal then lost serve to drop the first set. Djokovic's backhander just caught the line, with Nadal sending his reply wide.

Djokovic fell behind love-40 in the third game of the set but Nadal again failed to take advantage.

Djokovic broke the No. 2 ranked Nadal in the eighth game of the final set and served out at love.

Federer and Nadal had split four matches this year and squared off inmemorable finalsat the French Open and Wimbledon, but a rubber match but the world's top ranked players will have to wait.

Seeking first win

Djokovic will look for his first career win against Federer in his fifth attempt.

"I'll do my best and try to recover and be ready so I can have success tomorrow," Djokovic said.

Defending championFederer advanced to the final of the Rogers Cup with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 victory over Radek Stepanek in semifinal action Saturday afternoon.

The Swiss star and world No. 1 has a 16-match winning streak in Canada, winning the 2004 and 2006 Rogers Cup in Toronto. He missed the 2005 tournament in Montreal because of a foot injury.

"I really got a nice groove on this surface," Federer told CBC."I'm really happy the way [my game]picked up now and my movement is great.That's exactly how I need to feel before the finals tomorrow."

Stepanek pushed Federer to the brink in the opening set, but lost his steam in the second.

Federer and Stepanek held service through the first set, but Federer got a scare when he was down 0-40 in the seventh game. The Swiss star wasn't fazed and came back with four straight points, including two aces, to save his serve.

Backhand return

In the tiebreaker, Stepanek again had Federer on edge by holding off three set points until Federer grabbed the set with a backhand return.

"I had to come up with some really great passing shots in the end of the tiebreaker to win it — that was close," Federer said. "After that I really started to play better and pick up his serve really well."

Stepanek's confidence took a tumble in the second set as Federer broke the Czech's serve twice for a commanding 4-1 lead.

Despite the loss, it was fine week for the unranked Stepanek. The 12-year veteran of the ATP Tour rediscovered his top form at the Rogers Cup tournament after sitting out six months last year because of a career-threatening neck injury.

He became a crowd favourite for his emotional fist-pumping and colourful celebrations as well as his penchant for knocking off seeded players, including No. 6 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, No. 12 Tommy Haas of Germany and No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.