Rafael Nadal overcame a poor start and a difficult third set to defeat Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday, advancing to the semifinals of the Brazil Open.

Nadal jumped and thrust both of his arms into the air after he closed the match against the 78-ranked Berlocq in 2 hours, 24 minutes, staying on track to win his first tournament after a long layoff to recover from a left knee injury.

Earlier, two-time defending champion and second-seeded Nicolas Almagro fell to David Nalbandian in three sets at the indoor clay-court tournament in South America’s biggest city.

With the crowd behind him, Nadal broke Berlocq’s service in the final game of the match to secure the victory and a spot in the semifinals.

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