Rafael Nadal into Rio Open semi-finals with win over Pablo Cuevas

Rafael Nadal
Title holder Rafael Nadal dropped a set for the first time in the tournament

Top seed Rafael Nadal left the court at 3.20am after battling past Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas in three sets to reach the semi-finals of the Rio Open.

The pair did not begin their match until 1am local time and Nadal had to recover from dropping the first set, eventually winning 4-6 7-5 6-0.

Nadal will return on Saturday evening to face Italian Fabio Fognini.

"I am going to go off to bed and we'll see if I have recovered," said the 14-time Grand Slam champion.

"I know it is not the fault of the tournament. It is the fault of the ATP wanting to change a match over (to a different court)."

Nadal's long night was the result of a busy schedule that included Fognini beating Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-4 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (11-9) in three hours and 12 minutes.

Nadal & Cuevas miss out on record finish
The latest ever finish at an ATP tournament came in 2006 when Benjamin Becker defeated Jiri Novak at 3.24am in Tokyo.

Second seed David Ferrer enjoyed a more comfortable 6-3 4-6 6-2 triumph over Juan Monaco and will next face Andreas Haider-Maurer, who took two hours and 20 minutes to beat home favourite Joao Souza 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-4.

In the women's draw, top seed Sara Errani had to overcome a similarly partisan crowd to beat wildcard Beatriz Haddad Maia 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 3-0, with the Brazilian retiring in the final set.

The world number 16 faces Johanna Larsson in the last four after the Swede beat Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-4 6-0.

Irina-Camelia Begu and Anna Schmiedlova will contest the other semi-final after beating Julia Glushko and Veronica Cepede Royg respectively.