Sports

Brisbane International: Rafael Nadal Breezes Back Into Competitive Tennis With Facile Win Over Dominic Thiem 

Rafael Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, was away from tennis for almost a year with a hip injury. He beat Dominic Thiem with a dominating 7-5, 6-1 scoreline in their round of 32 clash at Brisbane International

Rafael Nadal hits a return against Dominic Thiem during the Brisbane International tennis tournament
info_icon

A whole 349 days after he last played elite tennis, Rafael Nadal purposefully ran, scrambled, returned on court again. This time, though, he won. With ease. The 37-year-old set aside familiar foe Dominic Thiem with a dismissive scoreline of 7-5, 6-1 in their round of 32 clash at Brisbane International - a tune-up tournament for the upcoming Australian Open. (More Tennis News)

As is his wont, Nadal came up trumps not by hitting more winners, but by making fewer errors and retrieving an inordinately higher number of balls.

The first set was a relatively close affair, and Nadal won it 7-5 after breaking Thiem's serve at 6-5. That was the only break in the set, which saw two double faults from Thiem. Nadal won 89% first-serve points and 88% second-serve ones, as against the corresponding 69% and 58% for Thiem.   

Nadal made the gulf in the match abundantly clear in the second set, which he won with a roaring 6-1 margin. The former World No. 1 dropped just three points out of 19 on serve in this set, and broke Thiem twice - each time converting the first available break point. The 37-year-old 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.”

The Spanish southpaw was away for almost a year with a hip injury. Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, last played in the second round of the Australian Open in January, and eventually decided to have surgery on his troublesome hip in June.  

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement