STUTTGART, June 13, 2015
Rafael Nadal and Viktor Troicki will go head to head in Sunday’s final of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart.
On a sunny Day 6 and in front of fully packed stands on centre court, the 29-year-old Spaniard defeated Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4 in their first meeting on grass. Nadal withstood ten aces from the Frenchman, hitting not one service winner but saved all four break points he faced and capitalized on two of his own. The world number ten sealed victory in one hour and 19 minutes to reach his third final of the season, his first since losing to Andy Murray in Madrid in May and his 95th overall on the ATP World Tour.
“The beginning on grass is always tough. Playing two matches with three sets, too, but I was aggressive on court, trying everything to be successful on grass. I enjoy the fact that I am in a final on grass again after a few years and I try to be ready for tomorrow,” told Nadal after reaching his first grass court final since 2011.
“Of course, I always need improvement. That’s what I have had to do all my entire career. I have the motivation to come back to my best, maybe even stronger than I was before. I try the best to have a good second half of the season and to have a strong start into 2016. I am focused on that,” the former world number one said and added that there is no pressure for him anymore.
“I do not care about the expectations coming from outside. I have been playing for 13 years on the tour now. It’s not about what the people are thinking, it’s about myself. During the first half of the season, I just didn’t find myself on court. I played with too many nerves. I am starting to feel better now and played good tournaments in Monte Carlo and in Rome. I am playing well here, too. That’s the most important thing for me. My level of tennis is there. I have not forgotten how to play tennis in six months,” Nadal explained with a smile and enjoyed playing in front of about 6,000 spectators today.
“It’s always great to play with a lot of people watching the matches. This happens here every day. That’s important for the tournament but also for the players. It’s a great atmosphere and we enjoy the support from the crowd. That’s a special thing,” said Nadal.
The Spaniard will face eighth-seed Viktor Troicki in the final, who defeated Marin Cilic for a fourth time in a row, winning 6-3, 6-7, 7-6. The 29-year-old Serbian, who is playing in Stuttgart for the first time, fired 19 aces and won 80% of his first service points to seal victory in two hours and 21 minutes.
“It was a tough match. In the first part I was better, in the second it was Marin. He used his chances in the tie-break of the second set as well as in the beginning of the third. Somehow I got back into the third set and in the end I played a great tie-break and I am happy to be through to the finals,” Troicki is looking forward to tomorrow’s match.
“It is very important to have a good first service percentage, gaining a couple of free points. That’s even more important than hitting aces. I like the grass. I can move well on this surface and enjoy playing on it,” world number 28 told and added that the transition to the green surface was not difficult for him.
Troicki will face Nadal for the fourth time on the tour, having won only one set in the three previous meetings. The last encounter between the two in Tokyo’s semi-finals in 2010 is still on the Serbian’s mind.
“I was serving for the match and I had three match points. I was there. I remember that match well,” said Troicki. “I think I will have my chances on this court. Of course, Rafa will be the favourite but we will see. I will definitely enjoy playing the finals against such a great player. I hope it will be a nice match,” he continued and said that he is also keen on winning the car. “Mercedes gave us the opportunity to have a test drive. I was the first one to try it when I came here. I liked it. I think I mostly know everything about the car. I deserve the car,” Troicki added with a smile.