Home » Back in Rio, Rafael Nadal won the first championship.
Back in Rio, Rafael Nadal won the first championship.
Rafael Nadal was at the top of the tennis world in February 2014 after making his comeback. The Spaniard appeared to be in good shape at the start of 2014 after winning 10 ATP titles the season before. Rafa competed again at the first tournament in Rio de Janeiro in February after losing to Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open final.
It was Nadal‘s sole clay-court match during the Golden Swing, unlike in 2013. He battled all the way to win his 62nd ATP title, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov in the title match on February 23 after nearly defeating Pablo Andujar in the semifinals.
In the first three rounds, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Albert Montanes, and Joao Sousa were all defeated by Rafael Nadal. In a match for the championship versus Andujar, he dropped his serve twice and hoped for more of the same. The Roland Garros champion was instead held on the court for two hours and 47 minutes by Pablo.
Andujar won the first set but squandered two match points in the decisive game. Nonetheless, Rafa won 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 to prevent an upset in a wild tie break that he won 12-10! 54 in the world In his third ATP clay-court final, Alexandr Dolgopolov stood between Rafael Nadal and the trophy, seeking to shock the world no. 1 and win his third ATP title. In one hour and 41 minutes, Nadal defeated his opponent 6-3, 7-6 to win the first Rio de Janeiro tournament and go on from his victories in Roland Garros, Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome the previous spring. Three of the four break attempts were stopped by the Spaniard, who also kept the pressure on the opposition.
To win in straight sets and escape the possible problems he would have encountered the day after the semi-final, Nadal secured two breaks out of three chances. Dolgopolov made more forced and unforced errors than winners. While maintaining contact with Nadal over the mid-range and longest rallies, he lost ground in the shorter rallies and lost in straight sets.
In the fourth game of the match, the Ukrainian sprayed a forehand mistake, losing serve at love. After a successful return of serve, Rafa consolidated the break to go up 4-1 and find a comfortable rhythm.
In 2014, Rafael Nadal won the inaugural Rio de Janeiro championship.
In game seven, Alexandr continued to be aggressive and produced a break opportunity with a forehand winner at the net.
Rafa faced the second after the opponent’s winning volley after successfully blocking it with a drop shot. The Spaniard was able to escape from jail thanks to a service winner before facing his third break opportunity. With a forced error, he managed to avoid it, ending the game with a 5-2 lead.
Serving for the set in the ninth game, Nadal won it 6-3 after 38 minutes by holding at love following an ace, giving him a good chance to win the match in straight sets. As his volley hit the net in the third game of the second set, Dolgopolov was broken.
In the following game, he sprayed a forehand error that gave Rafa a 3-1 lead and moved him closer to the finish line. After being held at love, a service winner gave Nadal a 4-2 lead and gave him the chance to break for a potential 5-2 lead.
Alexandr served to stay in the match after Nadal held with another unreturned service at 4-3 by saving it with a strong forehand to keep within one break of victory. Determined to fight for every point, Alexandr cut the deficit to 5-4 before coming back a short while later to tie the score at 5-5 and heighten the tension.
With a forehand winner, the Ukrainian won the third consecutive game to go ahead 6-5 and put pressure on the opposition. Nadal held with a drop shot in game 12 to force a tie-break since there was no room for error. He got off to a solid start and increased his lead to 4-1 when Alexandr scored a simple backhand.
After a forehand return winner at 5-3, Rafa saved three match points. He then sealed the victory with a service winner at 7-3 to claim his 62nd ATP championship.