Top-ranked Rafael Nadal will face Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine in the final of the Rio Open.
Nadal got a scare, fighting off two match points in the third-set tiebreaker, before defeating fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10) on Saturday. Dolgopolov pulled an upset, beating second-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 on Rio’s outdoor clay.
“I played one of the best matches of my life,” Andujar said. “Maybe the best. But I had a great one across (the net) from me.”
Nadal has been almost unbeatable on clay. His last loss on the surface was 10 months ago against Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters. His record on clay is now 297-21 for his career, the best in the Open era.
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.
Zakopalova will be aiming for her third WTA singles title. She won two in 2004, and has since been a losing finalist 11 times.
This will be Nara’s first WTA singles final. “I’m very surprised because it’s on a clay court,” said Nara, a university student who prefers hard courts.