Rafael Nadal’s Triumph in Barcelona Marks Remarkable Comeback from Injury

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Rafael Nadal returned triumphantly from injury at the Barcelona Open on Tuesday, effortlessly defeating Flavio Cobolli.

Despite not playing an ATP Tour match since January, the 22-time Grand Slam champion dominated, securing a 6-2, 6-3 victory in just one hour and 25 minutes, advancing to the second round.

This marked Nadal’s return to clay since his French Open victory in 2022, where he displayed glimpses of his typical brilliance in a strong performance.

“It was a good start – when you return you can’t get rid of the doubts in one day, above all, on a physical level,” Nadal told TVE.

“Within what it could be, it was a good first round. He made mistakes and I think I played the game that I had to play.”

Rafael Nadal, the record holder with 14 triumphs at Roland Garros, aims to participate in May, anticipating it to be his last year on the professional circuit.

After largely missing the 2023 season due to injury, the clay court maestro, fresh from a straightforward victory over Cobolli, is set to challenge Alex de Minaur on Wednesday.

“It will be at a speed that I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with, but I’ll try,” Nadal said of facing the 11th-ranked De Minaur.

After conceding a double fault and falling behind 30-0, Nadal swiftly regained his composure, buoyed by the enthusiastic support of the crowd at the court bearing his name, which seemed to unsettle Cobolli. Nadal capitalized on his third break point opportunity in the fourth game, securing a 3-1 lead.

Despite Cobolli’s resilience, holding at 4-2 down, Nadal broke again to clinch the set in 43 minutes, visibly expressing his triumph with a clenched fist.

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In the second set, Cobolli’s two unforced errors gifted Nadal a break for a 2-0 advantage.

Although Cobolli managed to apply some pressure on Nadal’s serve and break back in the third game, Nadal quickly regained control, breaking again for a 3-1 lead following Cobolli’s third double fault. Nadal maintained his dominance to serve out the set and claim victory.

Despite his victory, Nadal’s serve lacked aces and was characterized by effectiveness rather than explosiveness.

“I’ve gone months without being able to serve, (and) although I’ve got a lot of excitement to play here and do the best I can, I’m not going to go crazy with the serve,” added Nadal.

“I have to serve with caution that the moment I’m in dictates… there are moments in which I feel more liberated and others in which I’m more careful.”

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