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Nadal beats Djokovic in thriller to reach Rogers Cup final

updated 7:30 AM EDT, Sun August 11, 2013
Rafael Nadal celebrates his win over Novak Djokovic at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Rafael Nadal celebrates his win over Novak Djokovic at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Nadal edges Novak Djokovic at the Rogers Cup to reach the final
  • The last time Nadal beat Djokovic on a hard court was three years ago
  • He faces Milos Raonic in Sunday's final after Raonic beat fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil

(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic can't stop playing classics.

Two months after their five-set thriller at the French Open, Nadal beat Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 to reach the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.

In a contest with memorable baseline rallies that routinely got the crowd off their feet, it was Nadal -- just like in Paris -- who prevailed to set up a clash with home favorite Milos Raonic.

Nadal stormed to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak and when Djokovic sent a forehand long on Nadal's third match point, the Spaniard recorded his first win on hard courts over the Serb in three years.

He improved to 9-0 on hard courts this season and boosted his overall record against Djokovic to 21-15.

Nadal clinches 8th French Open
Nadal wins 8th French Open title
Rafael Nadal returns to the court
Relaxing with Rafa

"To play very well, I have to play aggressive," Nadal was quoted as saying by the ATP's website. "If not, I cannot play well on this kind of surface. And I did.

"I played a very high level tonight I think. I played with the right decisions in the important moments. Yes, the serve worked well during the whole night. And the shots from the baseline, I tried to stay very close to the baseline."

The loss is a blow to Djokovic, whose best surface is hard courts. He had won the tournament the previous two years.

"There were very few points that decided the winner," Djokovic was quoted as saying by the ATP's website. "I had my chances, he had his chances. I guess at the end he played better.

"Whenever we play against each other, it's always a thrilling match for the crowd to see."

Raonic defeated his fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in another third-set tiebreak, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6.

The big-serving Raonic suffered a dip in his game the past couple of months but has awoken at home and will now crack the top 10 -- a first for a Canadian man in singles.

He is bidding to become the first Canadian to win the event in the Open era.

Nadal, however, leads their head-to-heads 3-0 without dropping a set.

At the women's event in Toronto, top-seed Serena Williams faces Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the final after Cirstea upset grand slam winner Li Na in the semis.

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