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Nadal Makes Triumphant Return at Vina Del Mar

Rafael Nadal made a winning return to tennis after a seven month absence. Nadal teamed up with Juan Monaco to win their opening round doubles match in Chile.

By Erik Gudris

Rafael Nadal Chile (February 5th, 2013) -- Rafael Nadal is back.

After a seven month absence due to an ongoing knee injury that prevented him from competing in last year's Summer Olympics all the way through last month's Australian Open, Nadal returned to action today at the Vina Del Mar ATP event in Chile.

Nadal partnered with friend Juan Monaco of Argentina in a first round doubles match against No. 2 seeds Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy. While normally such a match elicits only passing interest, this certainly wasn't the case as the crowd on hand was a near sellout.

Both teams held serve during the opening games of the first set until Monaco found himself down break point while serving at 2-all. Nadal did his part by surviving a barrage of shots sent his way while up at net and from there he and Monaco held for 3-2.

Gaining a break of serve in the next game, Nadal soon held for 5-3. Thanks to a double fault from their opponents, Monaco and Nadal broke at love to secure the first set 6-3.

Though he wore protective tape around his left knee, Nadal looked in fine form throughout the match. The 11-time Major champion went for all his shots including his favored forehand and also was eager to punch away volleys up at net when given a chance. An early break of serve for Nadal in the second set gave him even more confidence as he soon bombed an ace out wide in the next game to open up a 3-0 lead.

Monaco and Nadal faced four break points in the second set, but a series of errors from Cermak and Dlouhy prevented them from taking advantage of their chances. Serving to stay in the match at 2-5, more errors from the all-Czech team soon found them facing match point at 30-40.

Nadal ripped a big crosscourt forehand winner and just like that the match was over with Monaco and Nadal celebrating a 6-3, 6-2 win.

Nadal will continue his return to tennis by competing in his first singles match tomorrow since losing to Lukas Rosol last year at Wimbledon. Nadal's opponent will be qualifier Federico Delbonis who defeated fellow Argentine Guido Pella 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(1).

(Photo Credit: AFP/Getty)


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