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Nadal Seeks Vina Del Mar Double; Zeballos Beats Berlocq

Vina del Mar, Chile

Nadal© C. Pincheira/VTR OpenRafael Nadal has won 41 of his 42 clay-court semi-finals.

Top seed Rafael Nadal will look to cap off an incredible comeback tournament when he plays for the singles and doubles trophies on Sunday at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar. Nadal is making his season debut this week after being sidelined for seven months with a left knee injury.

"I'm really happy with what I've been doing this week," said Nadal. "I have a good feeling on the court. So I cannot ask for anything more. I will try to play better and better every day."

Nadal breezed into the singles final Saturday evening, dismissing third-seeded Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2. He will begin his quest to double up on the hardware when he faces Horacio Zeballos for the singles crown at 10pm CET/4pm ET, and then will take court with Juan Monaco in the doubles final against Italians Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace

"I played well today, better than the days before, which is important," Nadal said. "I won't compare myself to seven months ago, it's just the first week of competition. It's a great feeling to be in a final match after so much time without playing.

"Tomorrow, it will be a tough match against Horacio, who is playing great tennis. I hope to keep enjoying myself like I've been doing during this tournament and that my physical condition remains good."

The 26-year-old Nadal is bidding to lift his 37th clay-court singles title. The Spaniard triumphed four times on the surface in 2012, highlighted by his record-breaking seventh Roland Garros trophy (d. Djokovic) and eighth successive title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Djokovic).

Against Chardy, Nadal broke the Frenchman to begin their semi-final encounter. The 11-time Grand Slam champion struggled in his opening service game, tossing in three double faults. But after erasing two break points to hold, Nadal commanded the remainder of the match. He went on to break Chardy four times to advance in 63 minutes, winning his 41st straight semi-final on clay.

Zeballos reached his second ATP World Tour final, defeating eighth seed Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 7-6(4). Zeballos has knocked off three consecutive seeded opponents en route to Sunday’s championship match, his first final appearance since his runner-up effort at St. Petersburg in 2009 (l. to Stakhovsky).

In an all-Argentine semi-final, the left-handed Zeballos won 76 per cent of his first serve points. After failing to serve out the match twice in the second set at 5-4 and 6-5, Zeballos regrouped in the tie-break to wrap up the victory over Berlocq in one hour and 53 minutes. The two were meeting for the first time on the ATP World Tour.

Zeballos improved to 2-1 in ATP World Tour semi-finals. In 2012, he did not advance past the second round at any of the tour-level events he contested, but excelled on the ATP Challenger Tour, capturing three trophies to get back inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. 

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