VINA DEL MAR, Chile -- Rafael Nadal lost to Horacio Zeballos in three sets in the VTR Open final on Sunday, settling for a runner-up finish in his first tournament after being sidelined for seventh months with a left knee injury.
Nadal was an overwhelming favorite, shooting for this 37th singles title on clay. But Zeballos won 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-4 for his first singles title on any surface, looking every bit the equal of the seven-time French Open champion.
It was only the fifth singles final that Nadal has lost on clay.
Zeballos matched Nadal shot for shot with no service breaks until the third set, dropping to his back after winning.