Nadal launches comeback with doubles win
VINA DEL MAR, Chile - Agence France-Presse
Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal says he is happy with making a winning comeback after a lengthy injury, but is playing down expectations that he would quickly return to his best. EPA photoSpain’s Rafael Nadal launched his return from a seven-month injury break by teaming with Argentina’s Juan Monaco for an emphatic doubles victory in the ATP clay court event on Feb. 5.
The return of the world number five, playing his first tournament since he was beaten in the second round at Wimbledon by Czech journeyman Lukas Rosol in late June, is the focus of attention at the $410,200 tournament.
In a warm-up for his long awaited singles match, which was scheduled for later yesterday, Nadal teamed with Monaco to post a 6-3, 6-2 victory in just 65 minutes over second seeds Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy in the first round of the doubles.
As the top seed, the 11-time Grand Slam champion enjoyed a first-round singles bye and will open his singles campaign with a second-round clash against Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis.
Delbonis beat compatriot Guido Pella 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/1).
The former world number one said that he was very happy about making his return to the game.
“It was a great feeling to play again and I’m very happy for doing it with a friend like Monaco in a great atmosphere that we had on the court,” Nadal said.
“In doubles the effort is always less. We will see how it goes in singles and how my physical condition is.”
Despite the win, Nadal, who will be 27 in June, has been careful to play down expectations, saying he still has some pain from his troublesome knees and doesn’t expect to immediately rediscover his old winning ways in his first tournament back.
The Vina del Mar event is a starting point for a clay court season that peaks with the French Open in Paris starting in May.
A master of clay court, Nadal is holder of the record for French Open record, with seven victories at Roland Garros. The Spanish superstar, however, tried to play down the French Open talk.
“My aim is to compete courageously and hopefully the knee will stand up to it,” Nadal said this week.