MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal stepped up his preparations for this month’s Australian Open with a 6-2 7-5 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis in the second spherical of the Melbourne Summer Set ATP 250 event on Thursday.
Playing in his first aggressive singles match on the ATP Tour since Aug. 5, the 20-times Grand Slam champion confirmed no indicators of rust early on at Rod Laver Arena as he broke for a 3-1 lead in the opening set with a blistering forehand.
The world quantity six, who introduced a untimely finish to his 2021 season resulting from a left foot harm, moved with ease on courtroom as he wrapped up the primary set in 31 minutes.
He was not fairly so fluid in the second set, nonetheless, with the gamers buying and selling early breaks.
Nadal went forward 5-2 however Berankis clawed his manner again into the competition to degree at 5-5 earlier than the Spaniard switched gears once more to safe the victory.
“I’m tremendous completely satisfied to be again enjoying competitively and it’s troublesome to think about a greater place than Australia to return,” stated Nadal.
“It’s solely my first match after some time and I’ve been going via troublesome moments in the final year-and-a-half. But in basic phrases I’m completely satisfied and it is vital to start out with a win.”
Nadal, who pulled out of Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and the U.S. Open in 2021, solely returned to motion final month in an Abu Dhabi exhibition event the place he misplaced to Andy Murray.
The 35-year-old, who examined optimistic for COVID-19 final month, can be competing in doubles at Melbourne and can play once more on Thursday partnering Jaume Munar.
In the ladies’s Melbourne Summer Set 1 event, twice Grand Slam champion Simona Halep marched into the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-1 win over fellow Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse whereas Andrea Petkovic and Ana Konjuh additionally superior.
Japanese high seed Naomi Osaka is in motion in a while Thursday in opposition to Maryna Zanevska of Belgium.
Daria Kasatkina, seeded third in the Melbourne Summer Set 2 event, overcame American Madison Keys 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3 earlier than Amanda Anisimova made brief work of fifth seed Sorana Cirstea.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)