Top-seeded Rafael Nadal began his singles season with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Lithuanian qualifer Ricardas Berankis in one hour and 32 minutes on Thursday at the Melbourne Summer Set. He will next play the winner of the match between Alexei Popyrin or Tallon Griekspoor.
Our champ moved with ease on court as he wrapped up the first set in 31 minutes. He was not quite so fluid in the second set, however, with the players trading early breaks. He went ahead 5-2 but Berankis clawed his way back into the contest to level at 5-5 before the Spaniard switched gears again to secure the victory.
Rafa finished the match with an almost-even 16 winners to 18 unforced errors, and converted on five of his eight break point opportunities.
I’m super happy to be back playing competitively and it is difficult to imagine a better place than Australia to return.
It’s only my first match after a while and I have been going through difficult moments in the last year-and-a-half. But in general terms I’m happy and it’s important to start with a win.
Updated: After his win, Rafa withdrew from his next doubles match against Andrey Golubev and Franko Skugor due to fatigue.