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Rafa's Return: Nadal Wins Opening Singles Match in Chile

Rafael Nadal secured his first singles win in seven months with an almost routine straight sets victory in Vina Del Mar.

By Erik Gudris

Rafael Nadal (February 6th, 2013) -- Rafael Nadal overcame a slow start to secure his first singles victory in seven months during his second round match in Vina Del Mar, Chile.

In a match filled with equal parts excitement and hype, Nadal entered a packed center court to take on Argentina's Federico Delbonis who reached the quarterfinals at the event last year. Despite Nadal still being an overwhelming favorite, it was Delbonis who looked more sure of himself as he broke the 11-time Major champion in the opening game.

Though his early groundstrokes lacked some of their trademark punch, Nadal finally got on the board for 1-2 thanks to a pair of back to back aces.

Delbonis, who hit huge lefty roundhouse forehands at every opportunity, didn't look overwhelmed by the moment and stayed with Nadal in their rallies. But it was only until Nadal hit a big forehand down the line passing shot, punctuated by a celebratory fist pump, that the Spanish star looked himself at ease in his first match since losing to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon last year.

Nadal soon settled into his own game as his favored forehand side started yielding more winners. Nadal, who finally broke Delbonis after an extended game to go up 5-3, then served out the set that ended with a volley winner.

Another forehand winner, this time followed by a leap into the air, allowed a more confident looking Nadal to break Delbonis to open the second set. From there Nadal took control and didn't allow his opponent to win even points as Nadal's serve and backhand started finding their intended targets on the court.

At 4-0, a few errors crept into Nadal's game, a sprayed forehand here and a backhand just hit wide there, but it was nothing that really concerned Nadal as he often constructed perfect points on the red clay to set up forehand winners.

Nadal served for the match at 5-2 and though he got overanxious on his first match point by sending a forehand just long, he bided his time on his second and waited for Delbonis to commit an error. Delbonis did just that sending a backhand wide and that sealed the 6-3, 6-2 victory for Nadal.

Nadal, relieved and happy, punched the air a few times while acknowledging the crowd's applause. Nadal will return to the courts tomorrow in doubles along with his friend Juan Monaco who lost earlier in the day in singles to France's Guillaume Rufin 7-6(3), 6-4.

(Photo Credit: AP/Luis Hildalgo)


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