By Tom Bartlett
MONTREAL (Reuters) - Spain's Rafa Nadal handed Novak Djokovic another semi-final defeat when he beat the world number one at the Rogers Cup on Saturday to set up a title decider against local favorite Milos Raonic.
Nadal held off a surging Djokovic to win 6-4 3-6 7-6(2) in a pulsating semi-final that resembled a heavyweight boxing clash with the duo trading breathtaking winners instead of blows.
The victory was Nadal's second successive over Djokovic at this stage of a tournament following his epic five-set triumph on the clay at the French Open in June.
Raonic had earlier advanced to his first Masters series final when he recovered from a mid-match slump to win a third set tiebreak 6-4 1-6 7-6(4) against wildcard and compatriot Vasek Pospisil.
"I'm very happy at this moment," said the world number 13 Raonic, who will move into the world's top 10 for the first time after reaching the final. "It's (top ten ranking) been a very important thing for me, a big objective."
Raonic needed all his superior experience to win through, as Pospisil, ranked 71st, fought from a set down to nearly pull off an upset.
Raonic made the more assured start in front of a large and vocal crowd, basking in the knowledge that a Canadian winner was assured.
A solitary break of serve was all that separated the two in the opening set as Pospisil adopted an aggressive approach that produced mixed results.
He capitalized on some sloppy play from Raonic to win the second set and force a decider that went the distance.
Both players traded winners from all parts of the court before Raonic sealed victory as he became the first Canadian in more than 50 years to reach the final.
(Editing by Julian Linden/Greg Stutchbury)