Rafael Nadal secured his 62nd ATP career title in the first ever Rio Open by defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 7-6(7-3) in the final.
The world number one made his position at the top of the rankings more secure with an extra 500 ranking points.
The victory brings up Nadal’s third tournament success in Brazil, where he remains unbeaten. He also scored there in 2005 in Costa do Sauipe and Sao Paulo in 2013.
It was the Spaniard’s first event back after losing the Australian Open final to Stanislas Wawrinka last month in Melbourne. He tweaked his back in the opening major of the year and needed four week’s rest following the tournament to recover.
In the semi-final last week, he had to survive two match points against Pablo Andujar to make it through to the final
as seen on live tennis online.
Against the Ukranian though, he rarely looked in trouble. He was able to secure the first set 6-3. The second set was much tighter in which there was nothing to separate the two players after 12 points. That resulted in a tie-breaker in which Nadal held his nerve to take and lift the trophy.
The 27-year old is now 298-21 on clay, his most favourable surface. He was last defeated on it during the 2013 Monte Carlo Masters when Novak Djokovic beat him in the final of the competition.
Nadal goes into the French Open this year bidding for his ninth success at Roland Garros. He is 4/6 with bet365 in the betting to win the Grand Slam once again
Despite defeat, Dolgopolov continues to rise in the rankings. He surprised David Ferrer in the semi-final to book a spot against Nadal. He is now up to number 57 in the singles rankings.