Spain's Rafael Nadal defeated Argentina's Martin Alund 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1 in the semifinals of the Brazil Open.

Nadal will play Argentina's David Nalbandian, who defeated Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5 in the other semifinal match, in Sunday's final.

The 26-year-old Nadal, the world No. 5, jumped to a quick lead in the match against Alund, who is ranked No. 111, and then stumbled in the second set.

Alund ran away with the tiebreaker in the second set 7-2 and took Nadal to a third set.

Nadal ramped up his game in the third set and rolled over Alund, who got a loud round of applause from the crowd as he walked off the court.

The Spaniard will now face the cagey veteran Nalbandian, a friend and sometime doubles partner, in the final.

Nadal and Nalbandian entered the Brazil Open doubles draw but withdrew after winning their opening match because the Spaniard wanted to avoid overtaxing his knee.

Nadal is competing in his second straight small clay-court tournament after a seven-month hiatus from the ATP Tour due to injury and illness.

The Spaniard went off the ATP Tour due to a knee injury after 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.

He 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.

The Brazil Open is the second of three Latin American clay-court events Nadal signed up to play in February.

The Spanish star was upset in the final of Viña del Mar - his first tournament back - by Argentina's Horacio Zeballos. He also is scheduled to participate in the Mexican Open later this month.

Known for his physically demanding style of play and outstanding defensive skills, the Spaniard has struggled to stay healthy during his career and has been forced to withdraw from each of the four Grand Slam events due to various injuries.

The 31-year-old Nalbandian also is mounting a comeback after a months-long absence from the Tour. EFE