TennisMonday, February 24, 2014
Nadal lifts trophy in return from injury
Beats Dolgopolov in Rio Open final
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov to claim the Rio Open title in his return from a back injury that he picked up in the Australian Open, decided four weeks ago.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Rafael Nadal returned from a troublesome back injury to win the Rio Open yesterday, defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 7-6 (7-3).
Nadal’s victory comes four weeks after he lost the Australian Open, beaten in that final by underdog Stanislas Wawrinka after tweaking his back while warming up.
Nadal, who had to fend off two match points in the semifinal against Pablo Andújar, looked more comfortable in the final and improved his record on clay to 298-21, the best in the Open Era.
Dolgopolov has lost all five matches against Nadal.
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.
The top-ranked Nadal used the Latin American clay-court swing to launch his comeback a year ago from a left knee injury. It went just fine with titles in the French and US Open.
He’ll take the same approach this season, hoping injuries don’t slow him as he looks for his 14th Grand Slam title in the French Open in three months.
The top-ranked Nadal is coming back from a back injury picked up in the final of the Australian Open. He did not show his best tennis during the week due to that injury, but he managed to claim the title and move up to joint-seventh with Guillermo Vilas in the Open Era title leaders list.
OPEN 13. Third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia showed he has the temperament for big matches, extending his perfect record in finals to 5-0 after beating defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to win the Open 13 title yesterday.
Gulbis, ranked 23rd, beat France’s two best players in straight sets on his way to the title, having eliminated the top-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-2 in the semifinals.
“It’s a really nice record for me. Five-nil is really good. I remember when I used to play Futures and Challengers, I think I lost maybe one or two finals,” Gulbis said. “When I get into finals I really have good form and good confidence and play my best tennis.”
This time last year, the 25-year-old Gulbis was ranked outside the Top 100, but is now on the verge of breaking into the Top 20.
Playing in his 19th career final, the second-seeded Tsonga was favourite to win the Open 13 for the third time and to secure an 11th career title, but he struggled with Gulbis’ attacking approach.