Rio de Janeiro - World number one Rafael Nadal survived two match points in a three-set victory over fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar on Saturday to reach the final of the Rio Open tennis tournament.
Nadal reached his third final in three ATP tournaments this year with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (12/10) triumph, but the determined Andujar, seeded eighth, made him work until the bitter end.
After a late exchange of breaks in the third set sent the match to a tiebreaker, it was Nadal who had the first chance to put the match away, at 6-5 in the decider.
Andujar saved the match point with a forehand winner, then mustered two match points of his own before Nadal finally sealed the win on his fourth match point, when Andujar smacked a forehand into the net.
Nadal needed two hours and 46 minutes to secure the narrow victory and set up a meeting with Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Dolgopolov toppled second-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 to book his first ATP World Tour final since October 2012.
He won the last of his three ATP titles in August of 2012, when he beat Tommy Haas in the final at Washington.
Dolgopolov, who had won just one of his eight prior meetings with Spain's world number five Ferrer, needed just 84 minutes to get past him this time.
In the women's semi-finals of this combined WTA and ATP event, top-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic closed in her first WTA title in almost a decade with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over unseeded Brazilian Teliana Pereira.
Since winning in Portoroz in late 2005, Zakopalova has lost five straight finals. She next faces fifth-seeded Kurumi Nara of Japan, who beat qualifier Nastassja Burnett of Italy 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Nara, who reached her first WTA final, won the first four games of the third set to take control of the match.
"I was very nervous in the second set, but when we started the third I just tried to focus on every point," she said. "I'm very surprised because it's on clay, and I prefer hard, but I'm very excited because it's my first final."
Results on the sixth day of the ATP and WTA Rio Open on Saturday (x denotes seeding):
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) bt David Ferrer (ESP x2) 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Pablo Andujar (ESP X8) 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (12/10)