• Rio Open

Rafa rules in Rio to collect another title on clay

ESPN staff
February 23, 2014
Nadal delighted with recovery

World No.1 Rafael Nadal lifted the Rio Open on his debut appearance at the clay-court event by beating Alexandr Dolgopolov in straight sets in the final.

Nadal, who saved two match points in an epic semi-final against Pablo Andujar which he won 12-10 in a final-set tiebreak, was taking part in his first event since suffering a surprise loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final last month, showing no signs of the back problems that hampered him during in Melbourne.

The eight-time French Open champion had not dropped a set prior to the semi-finals in Rio, and he claimed his 43rd title on clay with a 6-3 7-6(3) win over Dolgopolov. The Spaniard is closing in on Guillermo Vilas' Open Era record of 45 titles on clay.

With his last four encounter going two hours and 46 minutes, it only took Nadal 38 minutes to clinch the opening set, breaking his opponent to love in the fourth game.

Nadal broke Dolgopolov to take a 2-1 lead in the second set, but when the Spaniard was serving for the title at 5-4, Dolgopolov hit back to level to keep himself in the final.

Nadal forced a tiebreak when he fell 6-5 behind, but the brief challenge of Dolgopolov faded when he lost five of the first seven points. And very quickly Nadal converted his first match point to seal victory to win his second trophy of the year after triumphing in Doha.

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