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