Everything old is new again. As Rio de Janeiro brings ATP 500 tennis back to the Carioca city, Rafael Nadal defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine, 6-3, 7-6(3) in the inaugural Rio Open. The old was Nadal winning on clay. The new was the tournament, and the renewed play by Dolgopolov of the Ukraine, who has been a rising star, though with troubles along the way.
The Ukrainian upset David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro to get to the final. His quirky style of play may have been recently served by joining forces with another “eccentric” player, Fabrice Santoro, the Frenchman who is also known as “The Magician.” It seems a coaching choice made in heaven. A Kiev native, Dolgopolov wore a black ribbon on his chest, and spoke in his final remarks of the struggles of the people in his country, to sustained applause. Brazil has also suffered unrest in recent months.
For Nadal, it was his 62nd title, his 43rd on clay. After a huge battle with Pablo Andujar in the semifinals yesterday, it was not completely clear that Nadal would win today. But some things never change. Nadal wins again on clay, but Dolgopolov comes out of it with renewed encouragement.
In the women’s final, Kurumi Nara defeated the No. 1 seed, Klara Zakopalova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. It was the first WTA title for the 22-year-old Japanese player.
Cover Photo (Creative Commons License): Marianne Bevis