Rafael Nadal showed once again why he is the King of Clay. Last night in a spirited match with heavy underdog and countryman Pablo Andujar, Nadal was pushed to the very brink before winning 26, 63, 76(10) in the Rio Open semifinals.
Nadal, who at one point led by a break in the third set, needed to save two match points during that incredible tiebreak against Andujar who was playing the tennis of his life.
“I guess the difference from top players to the others is that we have less bad days. When I don’t play well I keep playing, fighting, running for every ball and looking for chances to win anyway,” said Nadal.
Uncharacteristically, Nadal was outplayed early by his lesser countryman, but in the end found a way to get through.
“I started the match with an intensity Pablo could overcome,” Nadal said. “I didn’t have the best sensations on court. I didn’t have energy to move, lost aggressiveness, struggled to control the ball.”
Andujar actually won more points in the match than Nadal (108 to 106), and afterward took the positives from the tough defeat.
“I think I played one of the best matches of my life, probably the best,” said Andujar who was just 3/14 on break points. “But I had one of the sport’s greatest in front of me. I had two match points and that leaves a bitter taste, but the positive point is I played very well and I get a lot of confidence to my next matches.”
After that long match 2-hour, 45-minute match, in the title match Nadal will play surprise finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov who upset David Ferrer. Nadal has won his lat 27 matches on clay.
Here are some highlights from Nadal’s win on Saturday:
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