The inaugural Rio Open took place in February 2014, with the eight-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal leading the action. Nadal made an impressive comeback in the previous season to conquer the year-end no. 1 honor, staying on the same course at the beginning of 2014 with the Doah title and the Australian Open final.
Rafa experienced a massive setback in Melbourne, injuring his back and losing the title clash to Stan Wawrinka in four sets. Returning to action three weeks later in Rio, Rafa defeated the fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 7-5, delivering three breaks and prevailing in the second set's decisive moments to avoid spending more time on the court.
In the second round, Nadal took down Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-2 in 75 minutes and maintained that level against Joao Sousa to enter the last four after losing only one game. Facing the third Spaniard that week, Nadal had to give his 120% and oust Pablo Andujar 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 on February 22, prevailing 12-10 in the tie break after fending off two match points!
Andujar threw everything he had at Rafa, winning two points more and suffering only two breaks from four chances offered to Nadal. On the other hand, Rafa fended off 11 out of 14 break points (five out of six in the decider) and stayed in touch until the closing stages when he crossed the finish line first after a thriller.
Andujar converted the fourth break chance in the opening game to move in front and extended the gap to 5-2 with a forehand return winner in game seven. Rafa played a loose drop shot in the eighth game to hand the opener to Pablo, having to work harder from set number two to avoid defeat.
Rafael Nadal saved two match points against Pablo Andujar at Rio Open 2014.
Andujar suffered a break in the second set's fourth game following a backhand error, and Nadal extended the lead to 5-2 after saving a break point in game seven with a forehand winner.
Nadal sealed the set with a drop shot winner at 5-3, gathering momentum ahead of the deciding set where he was the favorite. Nadal fended off two break chances in the final set's second game and two more in game four to level the score at 2-2.
They traded breaks in games seven and eight and served well in the remaining games to set up a tie break that saw 22 points. Andujar placed a smash winner at 4-5 to stay in contention and fended off a match point at 5-6 with a forehand winner.
Pablo erased another match point at 7-8 with a brilliant winner at the net, landing another one in the next point for a match point. Nadal saved two match points at 6-7 and 8-9 and sealed the deal when Andujar netted a forehand in the 22nd point to advance into the title clash.
"I felt empty the whole match. It was very humid, and this was the most challenging day of the week so far. I didn't feel that great physically, and I'm not talking about the back. I just didn't feel that great overall.
It was close because he played well, and I didn't play my best. The tiebreak was a lottery, but I played it better than the rest of the match," Rafael Nadal said.