One hundred and fifty-three days after the defeat against Lloyd Harris in Washington, Rafael Nadal comes back to play an official match on the ATP Tour. The result – as in the vast majority of cases – is positive.
Having resolved the doubts about his physical condition in Abu Dhabi (despite the defeats), the very Spanish champion returns with the right attitude, dominates for a set and a half before and hesitates only in the final part. Understandably, given the circumstances.
Among other things, Ricardas Berankis proves to be the perfect opponent: regular, devoid of decisive blows, just discreet with the available serve. Nadal applies the most consolidated schemes during the opening fraction, needless to say he looks for the forehand in an almost obsessive way and above all tries to keep the Lithuanian away from the baseline.
The plan, which works perfectly up to 6-2 5-2 as per protocol, gets complicated just near the finish line. Obviously deprived of responsibility from the scoring situation, Berankis lets go of his arm and called to respond to stay in the match, he draws a handful of jokers from the deck.
Not bad: Nadal flirts again with the break at 5-4 and evidently also avoids the jeu decisif. The winning hook that translates into a very rocky 6-2 7-5 is worth the quarterfinal challenge with the winner of the match between Popyrin and Griekspoor.