Tennis - Nadal battles into Sao Paulo final

Rafael Nadal qualified for back-to-back finals after launching his comeback, but it was tough work as he beat Martin Alund 6-3 6-7(2) 6-1 in the semi-finals at Sao Paulo.

Spaniard Nadal, an 11-times Grand Slam champion, suffered a surprise defeat to world number 73 Horacio Zeballos last week after reaching the final in Chile.

That was his first tournament since a knee injury ruled him out of the US Open and Australian Open last year, but the world number five now has another chance to claim a confidence-boosting title at the Brazil Open.

Lucky loser Alund, 27, is ranked 111th in the world and had never won a main tour level match before this event.

The Argentine was in the form of his life though, and even took the second set off Nadal after a tie-break.

"After being out for seven months, if the knee isn't good and I can reach two finals, that can only be positive," he said.

"Physically, I am prepared. I don't know (whether) the knee is prepared," he added with a smile.

Nadal will face David Nalbandian in Sunday's final after he beat Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-5 to move into his first title match since his remarkable implosion at Queen's last year.

Nalbandian served up 11 aces in his clash with Italy’s Bolelli, winning most of his first-serve points despite only landing just over half of them in.

The clean-hitting baseliner’s return game was exceptional, winning just under half of his points against the first serve and a whopping 70 per cent when facing the second serve.

Bolelli, meanwhile, failed to save a single one of five break points faced, double faulting on as many occasions.

The 31-year-old has an 11-12 career finals record and is through to a clay-court final for the first time in five years, having lost to Nicolas Almagro in Mexico in 2008.