Nadal celebrates a 43rd title on clay (©GettyImages)
Nadal celebrates a 43rd title on clay (©GettyImages).

Rafael Nadal beats Alexandr Dolgopolov to win Rio Open

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World number one Rafael Nadal won the Rio Open with a straight sets victory over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The Spaniard, who dropped just one set over the course of the tournament, prevailed with a 6-3, 7-6 victory.

It was his 43rd title on clay, and put him to within touching distance of Guillermo Villas’ open-era record of 45.

The Brazilian crowd had been hoping for a tense spectacle, having watched Nadal struggle past Pablo Andujar in the previous round.

The 13-time Grand Slam champion had needed two hours and 46 minutes to see off his compatriot, surviving two match points along the way.

But any hopes of a similar battle were extinguished as Nadal blitzed to the first set in just 38 minutes.

Dolgopolov resisted in the second set by breaking his opponent as he served for the match at 5-4, before Nadal responded to falling 6-5 behind by forcing a tiebreak.

Yet the Ukrainian was unable to produce a performance akin to his semi-final victory over second seed David Ferrer, and slumped to defeat after Nadal had won five of the first seven points to become the first champion in the competition’s history.

The win for the Spaniard would have allayed fears over his fitness – having not featured since the Australian Open final defeat to Stanislas Wawrinka in January prior to the commencement of the Brazilian tournament.

He will now turn his attention to not only equalling Vilas’ record, but also preparing to defend his French Open title when the Paris showcase starts in May.

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