Nadal Survives 3:18am Finish To Reach Rio SFs; Halep On Brink Of Biggest Career Title
by Staff | February 21st, 2015, 12:39 am

In a match that began after 1am local time, Rafael Nadal overcame a set deficit to pull away from Pablo Cuevas 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the Rio quarterfinals.

“It was a complicated time at the beginning,” Nadal said. “But in the second set I felt better. I felt better control in the match even though I could not break him until 6-5. I’m happy because this was an important victory for me, to be able to be in a semi-final. It’s a great result, it gives me points, confidence and the opportunity to play tomorrow. I hope I’m recovered.”

The match finished at 3:18am local time, six minutes from matching the ATP record of 3:24am for the latest finish at a non-Slam tour match, set at the 2006 Tokyo event. It was Nadal’s latest finish ever to a match. The match was delayed due to the day session matches all running three sets.

“No tennis tournament should end at this time,” Nadal told the AP. “It’s tough for the players, but maybe worse for the fans. It very bad on the part of the ATP. It’s not the tournament’s fault. It was the ATP that didn’t want to reschedule a match. If it’s a Grand Slam you have a day to rest. It seems like a terrible error to me.”

Cuevas, who had won 31 of his last 32 clay matches including the Sao Paulo title last weekend, finished the match in poor fashion simply spraying balls in disgust amid a chorus of boos.

Nadal, who has never lost in Brazil (17-0), will meet Fabio Fognini Saturday evening in the second-from-5pm semifinal. The Spaniard has won his last 52 semifinal matches on clay.

In the other semi, David Ferrer faces Andreas Haider Maurer who outlasted Federico Delbonis in a final set breaker.

“I can enjoy the match against him,” the Austrian said of playing Ferrer. “I played him two times already and in both, I had no chance against him. But I want to go on the court and enjoy this match. I think I have a chance if I play my game.”

In Marseille, Sergiy Stakhovsky stunned Stan Wawrinka. In the semis he’ll meet Gilles Simon. The other semi pits Roberta Bautista Agut against French favorite Gael Monfils.

“I was very slow,” said Wawrinka. “I was not very active, especially in the first set, and he played really well. I tried my best to make it change, but it didn’t happen.”

And in Delray, Donal Young continues his strong play beating Alexandr Dolgopolov. Next for Donald is a semi date against Bernard Tomic. In the night match Ivo Karlovic brings his big serve to take on Adrian Mannarino.

“I feel good. Hopefully it’s not over yet,” said the 25-year-old Young. “I’m enjoying it, and I’m going to ride the wave. Hopefully this is not the end and there can be some more.”

The final at the WTA Dubai is set, it will feature top seed Simona Halep against Karolina Pliskova after both won tough three setters in the semifinals.

Halep fended off a fatiguing Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.

“I think it’s taken a toll on me, but I’m still pretty pleased with my week considering everything that has been going on,” Wozniacki said. “But today it was like the air of the balloon just kind of went out.”

Halep is now a win away from the equal-biggest title of her career – she won another Premier 5-level title a year ago in Doha. She would also return to No.3 on the WTA Rankings by winning the title.

Pliskova outlatest Garine Muguruza 7-5 in the third.

“To be honest, I don’t like to play girls who are serving so strong, but I have a good return, I think,” Halep said. “But tomorrow won’t just be about the serve. It’s about everything. She hits the ball very strong. I have to be really focused, stay close to the line, and play smart but also aggressive.

“If I fight I can win. I believe in my chances and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

This would be Halep’s biggest career title.

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26 Comments for Nadal Survives 3:18am Finish To Reach Rio SFs; Halep On Brink Of Biggest Career Title

Sivaji Says:

Vamos Rafa… Get the confidence back

metan Says:

Rafa drove me crazy with his lost at first set but I am glad that he found his way to end that match. Well done!

Okiegal Says:

@Metan……..Me too! These slow starts are almost too much to handle. But he finally got it together and hopefully he can take care of the hot tempered Italian! I watched Fabio’s match and he stayed very calm at tense moments and pulled it out. It was a very exciting tight match.

Good luck to Rafa……and no more slow starts…..please!!

chris ford1 Says:

Had to comment on Rafa and the Rio Organizers…

Rafa: This has to be like a terrible nightmare. I guess when it’s 2:30 or so in the morning, even the most meticulous, OCD-afflicted of us can end up with their shorts on backwards. He probably realized it as soon as he tried to put that first second-serve ball in his pocket and it slipped toward his backside. You would think that he had 5 rituals and superstitions governing proper tennis shorts donning in the locker room. He has at least 4 ticks and superstitions on his shoes. Well, if he didn’t have them before, he sure will now.
I find it hard to believe coming out for the 3rd set he did not attempt at least one tug n’ sniff before coming out of the locker room for the 3rd set. And didn’t put 2+2 together when he grabbed zipper on his backside!!

chris ford1 Says:

Rio Organizers – How dumb are you guys and gals putting the superstar of your dinky little 500 on at 1AM??

Wog Boy Says:

@chris ford2,
IW organisers did that to Nole two years ago and he was #1 in the world at the time. He started his match after midnight and only the bravest stayed to watch him on the the bitterly cold desert night.

Wog Boy Says:

^^sorry, “chris ford1” should say.

Humble Rafa Says:

If women can change skirts on court, then a guy can change short. Gender equality,no?

Humble Rafa Says:

Losing set is a disaster, there is no question about it. Good to meet you, Pablo Cueva. I was half asleep. Next time, let’s play when I am awake so you know who the daddy is.

Okiegal Says:

Well, my guy got off to a better start today……slow second set…..please pick it up, Rafa…….your first serve percentage needs some serious improvements!!


Colin Says:

It was not to be, Okiegal. I quite thought Fognini would tighten up when it came to the crunch, but he didn’t. Has Rafa now got a groin strain to add to his physical woes?

Brando Says:

Rafa loses but of more concern:

hurts his groin!

Damn shorts, too tight- get rid of them Rafa!

I hope (think) he’s okay as for the match:


Congrats for the win but in all honesty he did not do anything special for the win. It was his general play: erratic, some ridiculous errors, matched by some sublime play.


He was cruising but a huge mental letdown, nervous collapse saw him give away the second set and from then on he was just edgy till the end.

His nerves killed him.

A typical match from a player on return: streaky, nervous, lacking in calm, consistency.

The 16 hour turnaround in THIS heat didn’t help either………….onto Argentina!

Brando Says:

Yeah- hopefully-it seems it was cramps.

He hit one shot and was hopping around like someone with cramps.

Bad timing, oh well.

martins take Says:

How about Simona Halep?! She is one tough little lady. Despite failing to serve the match out several times, she held her composure and finally got the job done.

martins take Says:

Very pleased to see Donald Young reach the Delray final. Just getting to that point makes him a winner considering all the frustrations he’s endured over the last couple of years. Young was one of, if not the top junior, when he was younger. But in the professional ranks, he met with considerable difficulty, some of which was a direct result of his parents trying to continue coaching when he needed to get locked in with an experienced proven commodity type coach.
There is still time for him to become a solid impact player.

Emily Says:

I was half watching the Rafa match, saw the crazy match point. Was Rafa arguing w/ the umpire at some point? He looked very unhappy in that 3rd set, in general.

Daniel Says:

Nadal will drop to #4 next week. He needs Buenos Aires title or at least get to a final again, before IW-Miami, last one was RG last year.

The schedule ruin it for him last night so he can better prepare for BA.

jane Says:

i didn’t see the rafa match, but i did see the foggy/rafa match at bejing in 2013, and foggy almost had rafa in that one and then rather badly choked, so i was not *totally* shocked by this result (although on clay it would seem less likely), especially given rafa’s super-late night, although fognini survived his own epic quarterfinal battle yesterday, so he likely felt some fatigue too. so ferrer/foggy it is … edge to daveed.

Brando Says:


‘The schedule ruin it for him last night so he can better prepare for BA.’:

Completely agree. Being absolutely honest and as without bias as I can be:

He was severely affected by the weather I thought this week.

Sweating profusely, signs of fatigue, lethargic moments at times:

It was taking a toll on him.

Playing a 3 set match and then another one in less than 16 hours in this heat was just insane.

Apparently the weather is fiercely hot in Rio- and Rafa did say pre Belluci match that the weather will seriously test him this week.

So in that sense I felt he was unlucky. And today cramping at the end was just bad luck.

As for his Tennis:

I thought he played well. He’s on a return to tour and with that in mind i thought he was fine. Nothing spectacular, but neither majorly concerning.


I am kinda glad he lost and get’s to move to Buenos Aires. He would have lost the final tomorrow to Ferru for sure.

And 3 matches within 40 hours is just ridiculous.

Daniel Says:


I went there to the venue and can’t imagine going to the day sessions. I basically don’t where shorts outside anymore unless it’s to work or hot a movie or a restaurant.

You look at Nadal and seems he lost 4-6 pouds this week alone, losing lean mass.

Wog Boy Says:

“I basically don’t where shorts outside anymore unless it’s to work or hot a movie or a restaurant.”

Sorry for asking, but what do you wear outside if not shorts, don’t tell me ..:)

Brando Says:


He sure did.

It’s seriously hot and humid.

Here in the UK when it get’s hot it’s almost unbearable since the humidity becomes insane. I remember when the Wimbledon final 2013 between Andy and Novak was played the commentator said it is like a heated oven inside the arena:

The humidity is just too much in the UK.

The ground just soaks it up it quite badly.

Humble Rafa Says:

Sun will rise in the west tomorrow. So sad.

I used to like Italian food but now…

Okiegal Says:

@Colin…..Thanks for a response…..that’s nice once in awhile. No, it wasn’t to be. I wasn’t feeling real good about this tournament as it was. He was tested before this match too. He has got to get more first serves in. He got cross ways with the official tonight also. I really didn’t realize that was going on. I watched and they would take a break between games and sets so I did not see the altercation he had with the umpire. He got two time violations and it really unnerved him……but he has got to get that time crap taken care of and stop fiddle fartin’ around……in my humblest of opinions. But he has played his whole career in a methodical manner and now he’s having to hurry. I think that’s why he’s double faulting more…..but it’s a rule and he’s gonna have to change something……like his shorts on court again!! :)
I missed that too…..but TX took care of the little matter and was so glad, I would have been so sad not to have seen him do that. He looked as though it wasn’t the first time…..I suppose it was the first time he put his shorts on backwards…pretty funny!

Oh well, onward and upward…..I hope!!

Daniel Says:

Wog boy,

It was suppose to be “shirts”. Kkkkk
My bad;-)

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