Updated: February 25, 2014 12:12:37 pm
Rafael Nadal returned from a troublesome back injury to win the Rio Open on Sunday, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-3, 7-6 (3). Nadal’s victory comes four weeks after losing the Australian Open final to underdog Stanislas Wawrinka after tweaking his back while warming up.
Nadal looked more comfortable in the final and improved his record on clay to 298 wins and 21 losses, the best in the Open Era. The Spaniard declined to talk about his back, focusing instead on the victory. He said the heat, the court preparation and the quick balls used in the event made it difficult. He has complained about the fast balls all week.
Nadal has won three times in Brazil and hopes to return next year. He’s also eyeing the 2016 Rio Olympics where he’d seek a second gold medal. He won gold in 2008 in Beijing. Top-ranked Nadal used the Latin American clay-court swing to launch his comeback a year ago from a left knee injury.
Dolgopolov has lost all five matches against Nadal. At center court after the match he mentioned the near-civil war in Ukraine. In the women’s final at the combined ATP-WTA event, Kurumi Nara of Japan defeated top-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 to win her first WTA singles title. Nara, the 22-year-old Japanese, was seeded fifth in the tournament and is Japan’s top-ranked woman. She prefers to play on hard courts but adapted to the heat and clay in Rio.
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The victory is projected to push Nara into the top 50 — probably No. 48 — when the WTA publishes its rankings on Monday.
Somdev moves to No. 78
New Delhi: Courtesy his Delhi Open triumph, India’s Somdev Devvarman on Monday jumped 18 places to become World No. 78 in the latest ATP rankings. Somdev had collected 100 ranking points after beating top seed Alerksandr Nedovyesov in the final on Sunday.
Somdev will next play against Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round of the ATP 500 Dubai Duty Free championships on Tuesday. Somdev’s career-best rank was 62, which he achieved in July 2011.
India’s No.2 singles player Yuki Bhambri slipped to 146, a loss of three places. In the doubles, Leander Paes continued to be India’s top player at No.10. Rohan Bopanna lost a place to be 16th while Mahesh Bhupathi further slipped to 41. PTI
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