Highlights

  • Rafael Nadal's first match after hip injury
  • 22-time Grand Slam winner downs Thiem in straight sets

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Rafael Nadal aces singles comeback with victory over former world no. 3 Dominic Thiem

The 22-time major winner hadn't played a singles match at the elite level since a second-round exit at the Australian Open last January.

Rafael Nadal aces singles comeback with victory over former world no. 3 Dominic Thiem

Rafael Nadal showed no signs of rust from his year off the tour, winning his return match over former No. 3-ranked Dominic Thiem 7-5, 6-1 at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

The 22-time major winner hadn't played a singles match at the elite level since a second-round exit at the Australian Open last January.

He didn't show it. The 37-year-old Nadal made just six unforced errors and dropped only three points on his serve in the first set. He won eight of the last nine games to clinch victory in 89 minutes.

Now, ranked No. 672 and playing on a wild card in Brisbane after a long rehabilitation from a hip injury, Nadal said the last 12 months had been among the toughest of his professional career.

“Today is honestly an emotional and important day for me,” he said in a post-match TV interview. “It was a very positive level (for) the first day.”

Nadal faces local hope Jason Kubler in the second round.

In the opening match of the day on the covered Pat Rafter Arena, No. 51-ranked Yannick Hanfmann of Germany beat fifth-seeded Sebastian Korda 7-5, 6-4 in a first-round contest.

In the women's draw, 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin was upset by No. 113-ranked Arina Rodionova 7-5, 7-6 (7) in the second round.

Kenin was constantly under pressure on her serve despite having chances in both sets against Rodionova, a 34-year-old Australian who has never been ranked in the top 100.

Kenin was seeded 14th in Brisbane, a key tune-up tournament for the Australian Open starting January 14 in Melbourne.


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