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Rafael Nadal recovers in time to win Rio Open

updated 6:47 AM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
Rafael Nadal won the Rio Open on Sunday after downing Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Rafael Nadal won the Rio Open on Sunday after downing Alexandr Dolgopolov.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Nadal sees off Alexandr Dolgopolov to win the inaugural Rio Open
  • Nadal overcomes a blip in the second set to prevail 63 76 on Sunday
  • It was Nadal's first tournament since hurting his back at the Australian Open
  • The 'King of Clay' boosts his title haul on the sport's slowest surface to 43

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(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal is known as an iron man on the tennis tour but even he gets tired.

After long semifinal matches in Chennai in 2008, Madrid in 2009 and at the World Tour Finals in London in 2010, fatigue likely played a factor in the Spaniard losing the next day.

Nadal was on court for nearly three hours on Saturday against Pablo Andujar at the inaugural Rio Open but this time he recovered to win the finale, defeating tricky Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 63 76 (3) for a 43rd title on clay and 62nd overall. The latter tally placed him in a tie for seventh with Guillermo Vilas.

It was Nadal's first tournament since the Australian Open, having skipped Buenos Aires last week with the back complaint that surfaced in the Melbourne final against Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka.

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"Pablo played a great match, playing very aggressive," Nadal told the ATP's website. "I played too short and I gave him the chance to have control of the point.

"Today I was able to play with a little bit more calm, play a little bit longer and go a little bit more for the points. I played a more solid match."

Dolgopolov likely needed a good start to upset the so-called 'King of Clay' but instead trailed 4-1 in about 20 minutes.

Having never broken Nadal in four previous matches, there seemed to be no hope for the world No. 54 when the 13-time grand slam winner tried to serve out proceedings in the second set.

However, Nadal faltered and was forced into a tiebreak.

On this occasion, it was more straightforward than on Saturday, when he saved a pair of match points against countryman Andujar.

Dolgopolov -- who stunned French Open finalist David Ferrer in the semifinals -- struck a double fault early and was unable to engineer another comeback.

"As usual, he was spinning his forehand, making a lot of trouble to hit flat and I couldn't really get used to his serve much, only at the end of the match," Dolgopolov said. "But I'm quite happy with the week."

Read: Ailing Nadal beaten in Oz

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