Nadal advances to semis in comeback event
Rafael Nadal, playing his first event after a seven-month injury layoff, advanced to the semifinals of the $410 200 Vina del Mar ATP claycourt tournament with a straight-sets triumph on Friday.
The 11-time Grand Slam champion from Spain ousted seventh-seeded countryman Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 6-4.
Top seed Nadal will face either French third seed Jeremy Chardy or Italian sixth seed Paolo Lorenzi for a spot in the final.
Until this week, Nadal had not played since a shock second-round exit from Wimbledon in June.
A torn tendon and inflammation in his left knee kept the former world No 1 out of the London Olympics and the 2012 US Open and a virus delayed his return.
Nadal broke Gimeno-Traver's first service game of the match for a 2-0 lead and again in the sixth game before holding to claim the first set after 33 minutes.
In the second set, Nadal broke in the ninth game and then fought off four break points, the only ones he faced in the match, before holding serve in the final game to advance after 84 minutes.
For the match, Nadal connected on 68 percent of his first serves, winning 29-of-44 points on his first serve and 14-of-20 on his second serve.
Nadal, who turns 27 in June, plans to compete in claycourt events at Brazil and Mexico before playing ATP Masters hardcourt events at Indian Wells and Miami and then heading to Europe for clay events in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome ahead of the French Open, where Nadal has claimed the crown a record seven times.