Top-ranked Rafael Nadal survived a scare at the Rio Open on Saturday, fighting off two match points before defeating fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10) to advance to the final. Nadal will next face Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who upset second-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 on Rio’s outdoor clay.
This was not Nadal’s night as he needed nearly three hours to defeat Andujar. “I felt empty the whole match,’’ he said.
“It was very humid, and this was the toughest day of all. I just didn’t feel that great physically, and I’m not talking about the back. I just didn’t feel that great. It was close because he played well, and I didn’t play my best,’’ Nadal added.
Nadal acknowledged his victory was lucky. “The tiebreak was a lottery,’’ he said. “But I played better in the tiebreak than the rest of the match.’’
Andujar had two match points in the third-set tiebreaker but couldn’t convert either.
Dolgopolov, who had beaten Ferrer only once in seven previous matches, won handily and didn’t flinch. “I always have these type matches with him, and usually at the end he would beat me,’’ the Ukrainian said. “I knew I’d have to make those shots. If you don’t win the points against him, he takes it away. I’m really happy I didn’t get tight and give away a lot of shots.’’
Dolgopolov has won two previous ATP titles. Ferrer won the Copa Claro last weekend in Buenos Aires, his third consecutive title in that clay-court event. He has 21 ATP titles.
In the women’s tournament, top-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic and fifth-seeded Kurumi Nara of Japan will face off in the final. Zakopalova defeated local hope Teliana Pereira 6-2, 6-1, and Nara won over Nastassja Burnett of Italy 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.