Rafael Nadal returned to competitive action by winning the Brazil Open on Sunday. The Spaniard overcame David Nalbandian from Argentina in two sets (6-2 6-3).
Nadal, playing only his second tournament following a seven month lay-off with a knee injury, made light work of Nalbandian in Sao Paulo – with the Argentine admitting “Rafa was much better”.
Breaking twice in the first set, Nadal showed the grit and determination he is famed for, by coming from 3-0 down in the second set, to take the match 6-3.
It was the 51st title of Nadal’s career and his first since he won the French Open back in May 2012. The former World Number One showed brief glimpses of his former self in Sao Paulo but will have to look to improve if he is to go onto the Mexican Open and win.
Nadal will also have to evaluate the condition of his knee, before committing himself to major tournaments where the likes of Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be competing.
When asked whether he feels he can still compete with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, Nadal said: “I don’t have any problem playing against better rivals because I accept that I can lose. Losing is not a problem for me. I just need time to continue improving and return to a more competitive level”.
The comeback trail continues for the hard-hitting Spaniard, with eyes firmly set on retaining his Roland Garros crown in May of this year.
Thomas Bradley, sports correspondent