Nadal reaches Acapulco final
Rafael Nadal is through to the final of the Mexican Open after a hard-fought 7-5 6-4 victory over Nicolas Almagro.
Nadal came through in an hour and 49 minutes, his ninth win from nine career meetings with Almagro, and will now face another fellow Spaniard, David Ferrer, in the final.
Nadal is on the comeback trail after missing seven months due to a knee injury and has now reached the final of all three events he has contested since he returned.
He and Almagro played out some lengthy games in the first set but there were no actual break points until Nadal found himself set point down at 4-5.
However, he managed to save that and promptly broke serve himself, before serving out the set after another keenly contested game.
Almagro looked set to finally break serve when he went 40-0 up on the Nadal delivery at 3-2 in set two, but Nadal reeled off five straight points to level at 3-3.
And the 26-year-old, an 11-time Grand Slam champion, got a break himself in the ninth game, before managing to serve out the match.
Nadal said: "I started the match a little bit nervous.
"I have not hit the ball as cleanly as in previous days and I played shorter than I would have liked, but I also faced a player who hits the ball very hard. In the second set I attacked a little more and I could lead my shots a little better."
Ferrer had to work hard to reach his fourth consecutive final in Acapulco, eventually beating Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-7 6-1.
Having lost a close second set tie-break 7-5, Ferrer faced three break points in the first game of the decider, but he saved them all and then powered away with the set.
Ferrer has won 19 straight matches in this event and will be aiming for his third title of 2013 when he takes on Nadal in the final.
Looking towards the match, Nadal said: "I'm in no condition to be or even say that I'm the favourite because I'm facing one of the rivals in the best shape on the circuit. Not only he's a great player, he's playing great.
"To win tomorrow I will have to play a perfect match or otherwise it would be impossible to win it. I don't think I'm to his level yet, but I'm ready to give it a try."