MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal stepped up his preparations for this month’s Australian Open with a 6-2 7-5 victory over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis in the second round of the Melbourne Summer Set ATP 250 tournament on Thursday.
Playing his first competitive singles match on the ATP Tour since August 5, the 20-time Grand Slam champion showed no signs of rust from the start at Rod Laver Arena as he took a 3-4 lead. 1 in the first set with a blister. right hit.
The world number six, who ended his 2021 season prematurely with a left foot injury, moved with ease on the pitch as he completed the opening set in 31 minutes.
However, he wasn’t so smooth in the second set, with the players trading early breaks.
Nadal took the lead 5-2 but Berankis resumed his way into the game to tie it at 5-5 before the Spaniard shifted again to secure the victory.
“I’m super happy to be back competing and it’s hard to imagine a better place than Australia to come back to,” said Nadal.
“It’s only my first game after a while and I’ve been through some tough times over the past year and a half. But overall I’m happy and it’s important to start with a victory.
Nadal, who withdrew from Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open in 2021, only returned to action last month at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi where he played. lost to Andy Murray.
The 35-year-old, who tested positive for COVID-19 last month, also competes in doubles in Melbourne and will play again Thursday with Jaume Munar.
In the Melbourne Summer Set 1 women’s tournament, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep entered the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-1 victory over fellow Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse while Andrea Petkovic and Ana Konjuh won. also advanced.
Japanese seed Naomi Osaka will be in action later Thursday against Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska.
Daria Kasatkina, third seed in Melbourne Summer Set 2, defeated American Madison Keys 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-3 before Amanda Anisimova did a small job against fifth seed Sorana Cirstea.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bangalore; editing by Peter Rutherford)