By James Crook

RafaNadalChile1February 10 - Spain's Rafael Nadal has labelled his comeback as a "huge achievement", despite losing in the final of the Chilean Open to world number 73, Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, in three sets.

Eleven-time Grand Slam winner Nadal was making his first competitive appearance since his shock defeat in the second round of Wimbledon last June to unseeded Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.

The former world number one had been sidelined with a knee injury, and his comeback was stalled due to illness.

"Although I didn't make it [winning the tournament], for me it is a huge achievement playing all the week," said the 26-year-old Spaniard.

Nadal also paid tribute to the crowd at Vina del Mar, saying: "This is one of the best weeks of the last months."

"I want to thank you all."

161400630Chilean Open winner Horacio Zaballos (left) and the returning Rafael Nadal (right), who made his first tournament appearance since June 2012

Zeballos took the first title of his career after coming from a set down to beat Nadal 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 and hailed his opponent following his victory.

"I'm shocked." he said

"I've beaten one of the best players of tennis history."

"It's an incredible sensation,"

"It's an honour playing against him [Nadal]."

"I enjoyed being with him at the locker room, eating with him."

"I would like to ask him if he's from this planet." joked the 27-year-old Zeballos.

Nadal will continue his comeback on his favoured clay surface at both the Brazil Open in Sao Paolo this week before taking part in the Mexico Open in Acapulco on February 25, which he last won in 2005.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2013: Former World number one Nadal plans Chile comeback