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Nadal marches into the last four in Chile

Anand Datla
FEATURED COLUMNIST
09 Feb 2013, 11:06 IST

Rafael Nadal betrayed any concerns over his aching left knee by winning twice on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the VTR Open in Vin Del Mar, Chile with straight set victories in both the singles and doubles events.

Nadal made light work of his seventh seeded opponent – defeating Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 6-4 to reach the last four in his maiden appearance on the Golden Swing in South America. He returned on court barely three hours later for the doubles semi-finals alongside Juan Monaco. The duo ousted Leonardo Mayer and Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 17 minutes to reach the finals.

Nadal advances to semis in comeback event

Gimeno-Traver was struggling with his serve and Nadal took advantage to break early and take command of the contest with a 3-0 lead. The 66th ranked player from Valencia pushed his compatriot to deuce in the fifth game, but Nadal pulled out  a couple of service winners to hold off the 27-year-old. In next game, Nadal had the stadium on its feet with three rasping forehand winners that saw him earn a second break of serve. The Spanish star took the set in 34 minutes with yet another thumping forehand cross court winner on his first set point.

The second set was a much closer affair as Gimeno-Traver, who won the doubles title here last year, made an improved effort with his serve. After keeping with Nadal t0 4-4, the 27 year old blinked in the ninth to offer a couple of break points to the top seed. After saving the first with a backhand winner, Daniel dumped an easy forehand in the net to leave Nadal serving for the match.

In a final show of resistance, the lower ranked Spaniard finally made Rafa work for victory – forcing him to save his first break points of the match before an overcooked backhand on the fourth match point afforded the world No.5 a safe passage into the weekend. Nadal is now two victories from what might be his 37th title on clay.

Nadal will take on the 3rd seeded Jeremy Chardy on Saturday for a spot in the finals of this ATP 250 event. The other semi-final will feature Horacio Zeballos and last year’s finalist Carlos Berlocq. None of those names inspire any confidence against a player of Nadal’s pedigree and the King of Clay should make a resounding return, with the tendinitis stricken left knee his only real opponent over the next two days.

“Today I had more confidence than the other days,” offered Nadal. “That is positive. It gives me confidence, and reasons to believe that I’m on the right way. I’m happy to win in singles against a tough opponent like Dani and to reach the semi-finals after seven months.”

Nadal capped a successful day with a straight set victory in the doubles semi-finals. Nadal and Monaco broke serve once in each set to advance to the finals. The two good friends will take on Italians Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace, 5-7, 6-3, 11-9 winners over the team of Andre Kuznetsov and Andre Sa in the other semis.

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