Rafael Nadal was put himself through a twin workout on Friday to test his sore left knee, defeating fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-1, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of the VTR Open.

Nadal had not played for seven months until he took the court earlier this week in the Pacific coastal resort city. With a doubles match set for later Friday, Nadal will have played five matches in four days.

Nadal said the knee is still hurting, but there’s progress.

“I felt better today than the first day, so that’s a positive thing,” Nadal said. “That’s a thing that gives me confidence and hope for the future that we’re going in the right way. After seven months out of competition, even if I don’t have the pain in the knee, at the beginning you feel slower, you feel more tired than usual so you need time to adapt. That’s the thing. I need time to do it. I still feel pain in the knee some days and that’s something we hope and think will be improving week by week.”

Nadal and Juan Monaco faced Argentines Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer later in the semifinals of doubles. Nadal plays Jeremy Chardy in the singles semifinals on Saturday.

The singles and doubles finals are Sunday, which could also be a busy day for Nadal.

The Spaniard’s goal is to get back to the top and challenge the other three of tennis’ Top Four- Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Nadal took the court on Friday with temperatures hovering around 30C (85F) in the middle to the South American summer. He is likely to encounter similar temperatures when he plays next week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and later this month in Acapulco, Mexico.

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