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Nadal To Face Nalbandian In Sao Paulo Final

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Nalbandian© Inovafoto/Brasil Open 2013David Nalbandian is through to his first clay-court final in nearly five years.

Top seed Rafael Nadal was extended to three sets for the second day in a row, but advanced to reach the Brasil Open 2013 final in Sao Paulo. In Saturday’s semi-finals, the Spaniard rallied to defeat Argentina’s Martin Alund 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1 in just under two hours. He had also needed three sets to get by Carlos Berlocq in the quarter-finals.

"I didn’t play well today. It’s complicated to play well with these conditions, for my style of play," said Nadal. "It’s complicated to control the ball and I’m struggling to be able to play aggressive and to be able to control the situation," he said, adding that his knee hurt more on Saturday that it did earlier in the week. "When my knee hurts, I cannot move well and when I cannot move well, I cannot hit the ball well."

The 26-year-old Nadal is through to his second ATP World Tour final in as many weeks, having made his comeback from a seven-month injury lay-off last week with a runner-up showing at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar (l. to Zeballos).

The Mallorcan left-hander is bidding to win his 51st tour-level title and first since lifting his 11th Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros in June 2012 (d. Djokovic). He is looking to win the title at this ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament for the second time after triumphing on his 2005 debut, when the event was staged in Costa do Sauipe (d. A. Martin).

In the final, Nadal will face former World No. 3 David Nalbandian, who advanced to his 24th tour-level final as he defeated Italy’s Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5. After losing his first two meetings with Nalbandian, Nadal has won their past four contests, winning most recently in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals last year in Indian Wells.

Nalbandian hit 11 aces and countered losing serve three times by converting all five of his break point chances to clinch victory against Bolelli in 85 minutes. The No. 80-ranked Bolelli, who upset third seed Juan Monaco in the second round, was contesting his first ATP World Tour semi-final since 2008.

“I started well, he was a little more inaccurate, and I quickly gained advantage [which] I kept throughout the first set," said the Argentine. "I had the luck of playing well on the important moments and ended up winning," he added.

The 31-year-old Nalbandian has an 11-12 finals record and is through to the title match of a clay-court event for the first time in five years, since finishing runner-up at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (l. to Almagro). "Tomorrow it will be a hard match...I have to be aware that to win I have to play well," he said.

Nadal doesn't believe he is the favourite."The conditions are much more favourable for David," said the Spaniard, who added he was pleased about being able to reach two consecutive ATP World Tour finals after seven months away from the sport he loves.

"If I work hard, it shouldn’t be a problem to reach the next level of tennis, just it will be a matter of working hard and sacrifice. That for me has never been a problem because I like to compete, I like to work hard, I like to feel well and [be] competitive."

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