Continued from page 1

The 26-year-old Nadal, currently No. 5 in the world, is recovering from a torn and inflamed tendon in his knee. He returned to action at the VTR Open in Chile last week, losing the singles and doubles finals.

The final in Brazil was only his eighth singles match since returning. He withdrew from doubles in Sao Paulo after winning the first match with Nalbandian as his partner. Nadal said he wanted to rest his knee for the singles tournament.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion admitted the level of the competition in Brazil was not as high as in other tournaments but said it wasn’t bad either, giving him the perfect opportunity to test his knee. The Spaniard will play another clay-court tournament in Mexico in two weeks.

“Right now I’m just thinking about celebrating this title, it means a lot to me,” Nadal said. “I still need time, so I’m thinking day to day, week to week.”

Nadal had won four of his six career matches against Nalbandian, the previous one a three-set victory in last year’s Indian Wells quarterfinals. Nalbandian’s last victory over Nadal was in 2007 in the final of a Master Series tournament in Paris.

The 31-year-old Argentine made his season debut in singles at the Brazil Open. He was out of action for several months last season because of an abdominal injury.

Bruno Soares of Brazil and Alexander Peya of Austria won the doubles title by beating Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Michal Mertinak of Slovakia 6-7 (5), 6-2, 10-7.