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Nadal Faces Nalbandian in Sao Paulo Finals

They were doubles partners for only a day this week, but Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian will now face each other across the net in the Brasil Open finals.

By Erik Gudris

Nadal and Nalbandian Sao Paulo (February 16th, 2013) -- Though they played doubles with each other for only one time at the start of this week's Brasil Open in Sao Paulo, Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian will now square against each other in tomorrow's singles final.

Despite players and coaches continuing their complaints over the court conditions and the balls used during matches, event organizers have to be pleased with the overwhelming turnout from fans that even had some sitting in the aisles as the first semifinal between Nalbandian and Italy's Simone Bolelli got underway.

Though both men traded early breaks, it was Nalbandian who surged ahead to take the first set 6-3. The second set was closer with Bolelli missing out on all three of his break point chances. But Nalbandian, despite serving 44% in the set, only needed one break point as he went on to close out the 6-3, 7-5 win.

For Nalbandian, Sao Paulo marks the first clay court final for the Argentine in five years since Acapulco in 2008.

Off-Form Nadal Still Bests Alund in Three Sets.

The second semifinal, at least on paper, appeared to make Rafael Nadal the overwhelming favorite against a nearly unheard of Martin Alund from Argentina.

Alund, currently ranked No. 111 in the world, had never won a main draw match in his career and only made it into Sao Paulo as a lucky loser before defeating Jeremy Chardy en route to the semis.

But though Nadal took control of the first set and won it 6-3, he was clearly not playing anywhere near his best tennis. Content to return serve from far behind the baseline, Nadal would go on to win only three return points throughout the entire second set.

A confident Alund continued to go for his shots while Nadal looked unable to force the issue in their rallies. Alund pushed Nadal to hold serve at 5-6 to enter a tiebreak. But instead of Nadal taking charge, it was Alund who played crisper tennis down the stretch as he ran away with the breaker seven points to two.

Nadal immediately picked up his game to open the final set as he broke Alund right away. Winning all of his first serve points, Nadal never faced a break point as he marched ahead to a 5-1 lead.

With a final forehand volley winner, Nadal put away Alund 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1 to reach his second ATP final of the month.

Nadal currently leads the head to head versus Nalbandian 4-2 with their last meeting being at Indian Wells in 2012.

(Photo Credit: AP)


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