x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Rafael Nadal sweeps into first tournament final since injury with win over Chardy in Chile

The former world number one enjoyed a comfortable victory over his French opponent, taking just over an hour to record a 6-2 6-2 win.

Rafael Nadal returns a shot from Jeremy Chardy at the Chilean Open.
Rafael Nadal returns a shot from Jeremy Chardy at the Chilean Open.

Rafael Nadal looked in good form as he booked a finals berth at the VTR Open in Chile - his first event back after a seven-month injury lay-off.

Nadal, seeded number one as a wild card in the $410,200 (Dh1.5m) tournament, broke French opponent Jeremy Chardy 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 former world number one raced to a 4-0 lead before Chardy was finally able to hold serve.

"I played well today, better than the days before, which is important," Nadal said afterwards.

"I won't compare myself to seven months ago, it's just the first week of competition. It's a great feeling to be in a final match after so much time without playing.

"Tomorrow, it will be a tough match against Horacio, who is playing great tennis. I hope to keep enjoying myself like I've been doing during this tournament and that my physical condition remains good."

Nadal closed out the opening set after little more than half an hour, pulling Chardy wide with a deep ball to the corner then blasting an overhead winner into the open court to end the rally on set point.

He broke Chardy at love in the third game of the second set to gain the upper hand, then saved three break points in the sixth game to maintain his advantage.

He broke Chardy for a 5-2 lead and took the contest with an ace on his second match point to book a title clash with 73-rd ranked Zeballos, who reached the second ATP final of his career with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) victory over eighth-seeded compatriot Carlos Berlocq.

Zeballos has beaten three straight seeded opponents en route to the title match, which will be his first appearance in a final since he was runner-up at St. Petersburg in 2009.

Nadal and Zeballos have met once before. Nadal beat the Argentinian in straight sets in the round of 64 at Roland Garros in 2010 en route to one of the seven French Open titles he counts among his 11 Grand Slam triumphs.

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