ATP NEWS | February 10, 2013
World No. 73 Horacio Zeballos denied top seed Rafael Nadal a triumphant end to his first comeback event, topping the 11-time Grand Slam champion 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4 to capture his first ATP World Tour trophy.
Zeballos notched his first Top 10 win in three attempts and in the process became the first left-handed player to defeat Nadal on red clay. He is the second first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, joining Australian Bernard Tomic, who triumphed on home soil at the Apia International Sydney.
“It's a dream for me,” said Zeballos. “To be able to play a final against Nadal was already good enough for me. It's a moment that will stay in my memory for the rest of my life.”
The 27-year-old Zeballos did not advance beyond the second round at any of the tour-level events he entered in 2012, but knocked off four seeded opponents this week en route to the title. In addition to Nadal, Zeballos upset fourth seed Pablo Andujar, fifth seed Albert Ramos and eighth seed Carlos Berlocq.
“I've worked really hard because I really wanted to be at this level,” Zeballos said. “For some months, I've been playing at a high level and I think I'm at the best moment of my career. I'm very strong physically and psychologically.”