Rio de Janeiro, February 22
Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, coming off an upset of Rafael Nadal, won his fourth career ATP title on Sunday, defeating Argentina’s Guido Pella 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 in the Rio Open final.
Cuevas smashed a forehand winner on the final point, the only break point either player managed in the last two sets, to claim the crown after two hours and 16 minutes at the clay court event. The final was interrupted by rain in the opening set and completed in the early morning hours of Monday.
The $303,000 top prize was the biggest single payday of Cuevas’ career, coming after his semi-final shocker over Nadal. “I know people were expecting Nadal but I’m glad you cheered for me,” Cuevas said. “I hope everybody in Uruguay enjoyed it.”
Left-hander Pella, ranked 71st, is likely to jump to a career-best ranking despite failing to capture his first ATP crown. He took home a runner-up prize of $142,450 (US), the biggest payday of his career. Cuevas missed two seasons from 2011 to 2013 due to injury but has come back to win titles at the 2014 Swedish and Croatian Opens and last year’s Brazil Open at Sao Paulo.
In the WTA singles final, former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, who turns 36 in June, won her first title since 2013, defeating Shelby Rogers of the United States 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the final. The Italian former world No 4, now ranked at 132, came back from a set and a break down to defeat her 23-year-old opponent and claim her seventh career title.
Schiavone is the third Italian winner on the WTA Tour this year after Roberta Vinci in St Petersburg last week and Sara Errani in Dubai on Saturday. Sunday’s victory was a welcome relief for Schiavone, who missed out on a 62nd consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance when she fell in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open in January.
It also guarantees a return to the world top 100 next week for the veteran who is in her third decade on tour. “I’m really happy to be here — I wrote this speech this morning, regardless of the result, because I wanted to share my joy with you,” Schiavone said.