Greek Teen Tsitsipas Shines, Faces Top-ranked Nadal in Toronto Final

Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece, serves on his way to defeating Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, during the Rogers Cup men's tennis tournament in Toronto, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas became the youngest player to beat four straight top-10 players in an event since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990, outlasting Kevin Anderson 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (7) on Saturday to reach the Rogers Cup final.

Tsitsipas will celebrate his 20th birthday Sunday by facing top-ranked Rafael Nadal in a bid for his first tour title.

“Playing in a Masters 1000 final is the best thing that can happen on your birthday,” Tsitsipas said. “I cannot believe it.”

Nadal, chasing his 80th tour title, beat Karen Khachanov 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the rain-delayed night match that ended after midnight.

Nadal has four titles this year, all on clay at the French Open, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. The 32-year-old Spanish star beat Tsitsipas in April in the Barcelona final in their only meeting.

Tsitsipas beat the fourth-seeded Anderson after topping seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem, ninth-seeded Novak Djokovic and second-seeded defending champion Alexander Zverev.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, of Greece, celebrates his win over Kevin Anderson, of South Africa, during the Rogers Cup men’s tennis tournament in Toronto, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

“I’m capable of doing anything on the court and beating any opponent,” Tsitsipas said.

Tsitsipas fired an ace for an 8-7 lead and converted his third match point when Anderson’s return sailed long. The South African had a match point of his own at 7-6, but Tsitsipas came through with a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner to pull even.

“I’m secure and I’m aggressive at the same time,” Tsitsipas said. “It feels like I’m never losing it. I’m always there. It doesn’t matter what the score is.”

The 32-year-old Anderson reached the Wimbledon final last month. He also lost his only other match against Tsitsipas, falling this year on clay in Portugal.

“I think the biggest thing I was impressed with was definitely his mentality,” Anderson said about Tsitsipas. “He stayed pretty solid throughout the match. Today, he definitely deserved to win.”

Tsitsipas is attempting to become the first player since Albert Portas at Hamburg in 2001 to win his first ATP World Tour title at a Masters 1000 event. Ranked 27th, Tsitsipas will jump to 12th with a victory Sunday and to 15th with a loss when the new rankings are released Monday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece tosses the ball to serve to Kevin Anderson of South Africa during Rogers Cup semifinal tennis tournament action in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 in Montreal. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Kevin Anderson of South Africa hits a forehand to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during Rogers Cup semifinal tennis tournament action in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 in Montreal. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece hits a backhand to Kevin Anderson of South Africa during Rogers Cup semifinal tennis tournament action in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 in Montreal. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Kevin Anderson of South Africa serves to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during Rogers Cup semifinal tennis tournament action in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 in Montreal. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece serves to Kevin Anderson of South Africa during Rogers Cup semifinal tennis tournament action in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 in Montreal. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)