Rafael Nadal overcame a poor start and a difficult third set to beat Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday and advance to the Brazil Open semifinals.
Nadal jumped and thrust both of arms into the air after he closed the match against the 78th-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.
Nadal will face 111th-ranked Martin Alund, who beat 88th-ranked Filippo Volandri of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (5). The 27-year-old Argentine had never won a match at the top tour level until he came to Sao Paulo. He beat 25th-ranked and fourth-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France in the second round.