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Nadal makes impressive clay court debut with straight sets win over Kecmanovic

Playing his first match in over six weeks, Nadal scored a win and improved to 21-1 for the season

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his second round match against Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his second round match against Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Masters 1000 Madrid | Draw | Order of play

Playing his first match in over six weeks, 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal made an impressive start to his clay court season with a straight sets win over Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

Nadal had not played since going down to Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells Masters final in March, his first loss in 21 matches in the new year. He was forced to sit on the sidelines for a month and only resumed training two weeks ago as he launches his bid for an unprecedented 14th Roland-Garros title.

Nadal, who already owns ore titles (five) and wins (64 now with today’s victory) than any other player in the history of the Madrid Open, improved to 21-1 for the season with the win.

Rain forces match to go indoors but Nadal comes through in straight sets

The Spaniard started the match strong, breaking his young opponent twice to claim the first set 6-1. At the start of the second set, rain forced the match to be suspended for the roof to be closed and the match was then played indoors. The change in the setting seemed to help Kecamnovic as he managed to stay close to Nadal.

The Spaniard broke for a 3-2 lead only to see his opponenet break right back in the following game.

The Serb saved a break point in the seventh game but was unable to hold off Nadal in the 11th game. Nadal broke for 6-5 but failed to hold his serve once again while being in the lead and Kecamnovic forced a tiebreak.

Nadal proved too strong in the end, winning the final three points in the tiebreak from 4-4 to complete the 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) win in two hours.

The Spaniard’s return of serve turned out to work well in his favour, as he won 41 percent of the first serve points and 61 percent of second serve points on Kecmanovic’s serve (the Serb was 27 percent and 42 percent on those stats).

The win sets up a third round showdown for Nadal against either former top 10 player David Goffin, who came through the qualifiers this week, or rising Dutch player Botic Van de Zandschulp.

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