Vina del Mar, Chile – Rafael Nadal was in top form once again in his first tournament since coming back from a seven-month layoff, with the former world No. 1 easily getting past Jeremy Chardy to reach the championship match of the ATP World Tour's VTR Open.
The top-seeded 11-time Grand Slam champion needed just over an hour to dispose of the third-seeded Chardy by a 6-2, 6-2 score in Saturday's semifinals on the red clay at Club Naval de Campo Las Silnas. Nadal began the match by breaking a shaky Chardy, who double-faulted three times on his first serve, and recorded three more breaks of the Frenchman later on.
The Spanish star, who had been sidelined since the summer by a knee injury, will now shoot for his 37th career clay-court title when he faces unseeded Horacio Zeballos in Sunday's final.
Zeballos, ranked 73rd in the world, earned his second career ATP final by upending eighth-seeded and fellow Argentine Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in Saturday's first semi. The left-hander hammered out a 76 percent success rate on first serves to knock out Berlocq, who lost to countryman Juan Monaco in the title match of this event last year.
The 27-year-old Zeballos, who previously took out fourth-seeded Pablo Andujar and No. 5 seed Albert Ramos to reach the semis, last reached a tournament final at St. Petersburg in 2009, a loss to Serhiy Stakhovsky.
The winner of Sunday's title bout will collect $74,000.