Rafa Nadal and his troublesome knees last night stood two matches away from enjoying a double celebration after the Spaniard reached the singles and doubles finals at his comeback tournament in Vina del Mar.
Seven months on the sidelines because of injury do not appear to have diminished Nadal’s hunger for success as he reached the singles final at the Chilean claycourt event with a 6-2, 6-2 drubbing of third-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
The seven-times French Open champion was aiming to win his 37th title on the slow surface when he took on little-known Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the final late last night.
“I played well in the semis, better than the days before, which is important,” said Nadal, who is playing his first event since losing to Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon last June. “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.
“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.”
The 26-year-old was due to get a chance to enjoy himself further when he joined forces with Argentine Juan Monaco in the doubles final in the early hours of this morning against Italians Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve been doing this week,” said Nadal. “I have a good feeling on the court. So I cannot ask for anything more. I will try to play better and better every day.”
In Zagreb, meanwhile, Croatian world No 12 Marin Cilic needed just 67 minutes to see off Austria’s Juergen Melzer 6-3, 6-1 and lift his third Zagreb Indoors title yesterday.
Cilic dominated from the start and did not give the fourth-seeded Melzer, who has now beaten the Croatian only twice in nine meetings, a chance to turn the score in his favour.
“This final is probably the best match I played in this season,” Cilic said.