Nadal progresses to final in Chile
Updated: Sunday, 10 Feb 2013 11:11
Rafael Nadal sauntered into the final of the VTR Open in Chile with a convincing straight sets win over third seed Jeremy Chardy.
Nadal broke his French opponent twice in either set to wrap up a 6-2 6-2 victory in 63 minutes and set up a clash with Argentine Horacio Zeballos.
The top seed has shown no ill-effects of the knee injury that sidelined him for most of the second half of the 2012 season and has not dropped a set in Vina del Mar.
Before this week, the 11-time grand slam champion had not played a competitive match since suffering a shock second-round defeat to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon last year due to injury and a stomach virus - an illness which ruled him out of last month's Australian Open.
The manner of the Nadal's victory over world number 26 Chardy will send a warning to his rivals that he may not be past his best yet and the Spaniard will attempt to cap a successful comeback by lifting his 37th clay-court trophy on Sunday.
Standing in his way is the unseeded Zeballos, who reached his second ATP Tour final with a 6-3 7-6 (7/4) success over compatriot and eighth seed Carlos Berlocq.
The unheralded Zeballos has also had a week to remember, knocking out fourth and fifth seeds Pablo Andujar and Albert Ramos respectively in the last two days.
He was still the underdog against Berlocq and although he twice failed to serve out the match in the second set, he held his nerve in the tie-break to reach his first final since finishing as a runner-up at the St Petersburg Open in 2009.