ACAPULCO (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal advanced to the final of the Mexican Open early on Saturday morning, beating fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-5 6-4 in a clay-court slugfest.
Second seed Nadal, who is on the comeback trail after missing seven months due to a left knee injury, will face another Spaniard, three-time defending champion and top seed David Ferrer, in the final scheduled for Saturday night.
Ferrer defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-7 6-1 earlier on Friday.
“I moved well today,” Nadal said in a news conference. “I can’t say that (my knee) didn’t trouble me sometimes, but the troubles are normal. What is most important is I didn’t have any limitations.”
Ranked 12th in the world, Almagro, the tournament’s third seed, is the highest-ranked opponent Nadal has faced in his comeback so far.
While the former world number one appeared to move well throughout the match, he did visibly limp on his left leg after losing the first game of the second set.
But moments later the limp was gone and Nadal, now ranked fifth in the world, jogged to the opposite side of the court as the players changed sides.
Nadal, an 11-times grand slam champion, staved off all four break points he faced while breaking Almagro once each set.
That proved the difference and secured him a place in the final against Ferrer.
Last month, Nadal reached the final of the Chilean Open, and followed that up by winning the Brazil Open.
Acapulco marks his third clay-court tournament in four weeks.
Editing by Peter Rutherford