Vina del Mar, Chile (Sports Network) - Horacio Zeballos, the 73rd ranked
player in the world, upset clay-court specialist Rafal Nadal in the final of
the VTR Open on Sunday to capture his first career ATP title.
Nadal, the top-seeded 11-time Grand Slam champion and owner of 50 career ATP
titles, was playing flawlessly in his return from a seven-month layoff. The
Spanish star had been sidelined since last summer with a knee injury and did
not lose a set leading up to Sunday's final.
But Zeballos, who did not advance past the second round at any of the tour-
level events last year, took the second set in a tiebreaker and broke Nadal's
final serve at love to come away victorious.
The final score of the two-hour, 46-minute battle read 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (8-6),
6-4 on the red clay at Club Naval de Campo Las Silnas.
Zeballos took out the fourth, fifth and eighth seeds this week to reach his
second career ATP final -- his only other coming in a loss to Serhiy
Stakhovsky in St. Petersburg in 2009.
The Argentinian never faced a break point in the opening set, but missed on
two break opportunities before succumbing in the tiebreaker.
There were also no breaks of serve in the second set, and Nadal saved two set
points to pull even at 6-6 in the tiebreaker before the underdog closed it
Zeballos was broken at love in the first game of the third set, but broke
right back at deuce in the ensuing game.
It stayed on serve from there until Zeballos, leading 5-4, won four straight
points to hand Nadal just his fifth loss in 41 career clay-court finals.
This was the first all-left-handed final on the ATP Tour since April 2010 when
Nadal defeated Fernando Verdasco in the ATP Masters 1000 Monte Carlo.
Zeballos collected $74,000 with the win.
The Sports Network