Nadal makes successful return in Melbourne


MELBOURNE:

Rafa Nadal stepped up his preparations for this month’s Australian Open on Thursday with a 6-2 7-5 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis within the second spherical of the Melbourne Summer Set ATP 250 match.

Playing in his first aggressive singles match on the ATP Tour since Aug 5, the 20-times Grand Slam champion confirmed no signal of rust early on at Rod Laver Arena as he broke for a 3-1 lead within the opening set with a blistering forehand.

The world quantity six, who introduced a untimely finish to his 2021 season with a left foot harm, moved with ease on the court docket as he wrapped up the primary set in 31 minutes. He was not fairly so fluid within the second set, nevertheless, with the gamers buying and selling early breaks.

Nadal went forward 5-2 however Berankis clawed his manner again into the competition to stage at 5-5 earlier than the Spaniard switched gears once more to safe victory.

“I’m super happy to be back playing competitively and it’s difficult to imagine a better place than Australia to return,” stated Nadal.

“It’s only my first match after a while and I’ve been going through difficult moments in the last year-and-a-half. But in general terms I’m happy and it’s important to start with a win.”

Nadal, who pulled out of Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open in 2021, solely returned to motion final month in an Abu Dhabi exhibition match the place he misplaced to Andy Murray.

The 35-year-old Nadal, who examined constructive for Covid-19 final month, partnered Jaume Munar to victory in doubles this week however the pair pulled out of Thursday’s assembly with Andrey Golubev and Franko Skugor.

Up subsequent for Nadal within the singles quarter-final is Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor or Australian Alexei Popyrin.

In the ladies’s Melbourne Summer Set 1 match, twice Grand Slam champion Simona Halep marched into the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-1 win over fellow Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse whereas Andrea Petkovic and Ana Konjuh are additionally superior.

Japanese high seed Naomi Osaka powered previous Maryna Zanevska of Belgium 6-1 6-1 in solely her second match on the WTA Tour in 4 months.

The world quantity 13 gained 90% of her first serve factors and didn’t face a breakpoint in a dominant show to arrange a quarter-final conflict with German Andrea Petkovic. Daria Kasatkina, seeded third within the Melbourne Summer Set 2 match, overcame American Madison Keys 7-6(4) 2-6 6-Three earlier than Amanda Anisimova made quick work of fifth seed Sorana Cirstea.

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