Rafael Nadal has joined an exclusive club of tennis greats after toppling Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Canadian Open final on Sunday night in Toronto.
The world No.1 Nadal defeated his young rival 6-2 7-6 (7-4) to win his 33rd ATP Masters 1000 tournament, extending his own record for titles in that category.
The victory made the 32-year-old just the fourth player to win 80 titles in the Open Era.
He now sits alongside Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (98) and Ivan Lendl (94) in the rare air.
“This week has been fantastic. To receive this trophy means everything to me,” he said.
“To have the support of all of you the whole week, that’s why I’m waking up every morning and trying to go on court practising with the highest passion possible.”
Nadal took the first set in 34 minutes after breaking Tsitsipas twice early.
Tsitsipas earned his first break of the match in the 10th game of the second set and then held serve to pull within one game of levelling the contest but Nadal, who had looked out of sorts for a short spell, found his way out of the jam.
Much to the dismay of the many flag-waving Greek supporters in attendance, the Spaniard denied the spirited challenge from his young rival to claim his fourth championship in Canada.
It was Nadal’s first ATP Masters 1000 title on hard courts since Cincinnati 2013.
Tsitsipas will climb to world No.15 on Monday, having become the youngest man to beat four top-10 players at the same tournament.
The appearance in his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final came on his 20th birthday.
“I want to congratulate Stefanos for a great week, and happy birthday,” Nadal told his opponent.
“I can say well done and keep going, you have an amazing future. I think you have a great team behind you supporting you, so I wish you all the best.”
The Greek fans in attendance sung happy birthday to Tsitsipas during the trophy ceremony.
“It’s been an amazing week for me,” the finalist said.
“This trophy means a lot after playing my first Masters 1000 final … such a feeling, what a vibe.”
Nadal was to head to Cincinnati for next week’s concluding tune-up before the US Open but pulled out for rest and recovery.
He owns four titles this season and has clinched the first spot in the year-end finals in London.