Rafael Nadal beats Martin Alund at the Brazil Open

Rafael Nadal beat Argentina's Martin Alund at the Brazil Open to reach his second successive final since returning from a serious knee injury.

The Spaniard came through 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 and will face David Nalbandian for the title in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

Nadal reached the Chile Open final last week in his first tournament since Wimbledon last June.

Nadal injury timeline

28 June 2012: Nadal loses to Lukas Rosol in second round of Wimbledon

14 July: Pulls out of an exhibition match with Novak Djokovic because of tendonitis

19 July: Withdraws from the Olympics with tendonitis in left knee

15 August: Withdraws from the US Open

3 September: Announces he has a partially torn patella tendon

25 October: Confirms he will not play in the Paris Masters or ATP World Tour Finals

25 December: Pulls out of the Abu Dhabi exhibition with a stomach virus

28 December: Withdraws from the Australian Open because of the virus

5 February 2013: Nadal returns alongside Juan Monaco in the Vina del Mar doubles before playing his first singles match 24 hours later

"It was the worst day for my knee, and if the knee is not well it makes it very difficult to play,'' Nadal said.

"But I am happy with the result. After seven months without playing it's good to reach the final again, even if I'm not at my best," added the 11-time Grand Slam champion.

The 26-year-old, now ranked fifth in the world, suffered a surprise loss to world number 73 Horacio Zeballos last Sunday.

He now has another chance to win his first title since claiming a seventh French Open victory last May, with Nalbandian standing in his way after the Argentine beat Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-5 in the first semi-final.

"I don't think I am the favourite at all," said Nadal. "The conditions are much more favourable for David. I still have discomfort. Today the knee did not respond well, and in those circumstances, not being able to move well, to attack the ball, it will be very difficult.

"I am going to do what I can but I think it is going to be a very complicated match for me."

In Rotterdam, Julien Benneteau followed up his win over Roger Federer by beating fifth seed and fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

Second seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina saw off Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-4 in the other semi-final.

"It was a bit of surprise that Roger went out but it doesn't please me as I don't pay any attention to the other half of the draw before the final," said Del Potro.

"It doesn't matter who I play tomorrow, I just have to stick with my game plan and play it hard."