Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal defeated France's Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the final of the VTR Open in Viña del Mar, Chile.

Nadal, who returned to action last week after being sidelined with a knee injury for seven months, had little trouble with the Frenchman in Saturday night's match.

The world No. 5 will face Argentina's Horacio Zeballos in the final on Sunday.

"I have come along very positively. I had some good feelings on the court, it's fantastic, I'm very happy and thankful to everyone," Nadal told reporters.

The former world No. 1 and 11-time Grand Slam champion had not played since suffering a shock second-round exit at last year's Wimbledon at the hands of unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol, considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of that prestigious tournament.

The Spaniard's ranking only fell two spots - from No. 3 to No. 5 - despite his extended absence from the Tour and he is the top seed at the VTR Open.

"No match is easy and even less a final. I will try to do my best so I can win this tournament for the first time," the 26-year-old Nadal said in response to a question about his feelings going into the final against Zeballos.

Nadal and Argentina's Juan Monaco are in the doubles final in Viña del Mar.

In Sunday's championship match, they will take on the Italian team of Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.

The VTR Open is a small clay-court event in Viña del Mar, a coastal resort city located 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, the Chilean capital.

Nadal also is scheduled to play two other small clay-court tournaments in February - the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo, which starts Feb. 11, and the Mexican Open in Acapulco, which begins on Feb. 25 - as part of his preparations for the French Open, which gets underway in May.

Nadal had planned to return to action in late December in Abu Dhabi, but a stomach virus forced him to withdraw from that exhibition tournament and he also pulled out of the recently concluded Australian Open. EFE