ACAPULCO, Mexico (AFP) — Rafael Nadal marked his return to action with a straight-sets victory over Pablo Andujar on Tuesday as he launched his bid to reclaim the world number one ranking at the Mexico Open in Acapulco.
The 33-year-old Spaniard, playing for the first time since his quarterfinal exit to Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open last month, claimed a 6-3, 6-2 victory over compatriot Andujar in one hour and 30 minutes.
“The most important thing when you have not competed for a while is to win, I needed a match like today to get in rhythm and gain some confidence,” Nadal said after the victory.
Nadal suffered an early stumble, with Andujar grabbing a break of serve in the opening game as the 19-time Grand Slam winner took time to find his rhythm.
However, Nadal broke back quickly and then opened up a 5-2 lead. Andujar saved three set points to hold serve but Nadal easily held to take the first set.
Andujar never looked like finding a way back into the match in the second set as a dominant Nadal broke in the first game and kept up the momentum, to close out the win emphatically.
The top-seeded Nadal admitted afterwards he was still adjusting to the heat and humidity of conditions in Acapulco.
“It was an awkward first round game,” Nadal said. “I had not competed for a while and the temperature change is drastic enough…but I am happy with the victory.”