Rafael Nadal will face David Nalbandian in the final of the Brazil Open
Rafael Nadal defeated Martin Alund of Argentina 6-3 6-7 6-1 in his Brazil Open semi-final.
Last Updated: 17/02/13 4:00pm
The former World No. 1, who was on the sidelines for seven months due to a knee injury, will now take on another Argentinean, David Nalbandian, in Sunday's final.
Nadal, an 11-time Grand Slam winner, returned to action in the Vina del Mar Open in Chile last week, losing in the final of the singles.
And he will try to go one better in Brazil after a hard-fought victory over World No. 111 Alund, which took almost two hours.
Nadal is not yet back to his best but he broke Alund to lead 5-3 in set one and then served the set out to love.
But Alund proved a resilient opponent and, after the second set had gone with serve throughout, he took charge in the tie-break, winning six straight points from 1-2 down.
However, Nadal was masterful in the final set, racing into a 3-0 lead with the help of a break in the second game and then adding an insurance break in game six, before serving out the match.
The top seeded Nadal may face an even tougher test on Sunday because Nalbandian looked in good form as he saw off Italian Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-5 in 85 minutes.
Nalbandian said: "I started playing well, very solid.
"I lost a bit of focus and it became another difficult match, but fortunately I was able to come through with the victory.
"I'm glad to be back playing at a top level again and it's good to make it to another final."
Nalbandian is through to a final for the first time since he was disqualified for injuring a line judge at Queen's Club last year.