Rafael Nadal showed he is literally back in the swing of things Sunday by winning the Brazil Open — his first tournament title since returning from a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee.
Along with the win, Nadal’s 51st on the ATP Tour, the 26-year-old Spaniard collected a prize of $82,300 (£53,000) and thanked the public for “the great support” he received.
”Brazil will always be in my heart,” said Nadal, who beat David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Brazil Open. ”Big things started to happen after I won here in 2005 and hopefully this is the start of something good again.”
Following the match, Nadal, considered the most dominant clay-court player of his generation, admitted the level of the competition in Brazil was not as high as in other tournaments but said it wasn’t bad either, giving him the perfect opportunity to test his knee.
“Yesterday [during the semi-final] the knee hurt. Today it’s better, rather bearable. I am happy to win in Brazil for the second time,” said Nadal, who now has 37 claycourt titles in a 51-trophy career haul.
When asked whether he is ready enough to compete against the worlds top three (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray), he responded:
“I don’t have any problem playing against better rivals because I accept that I can lose. Losing is not a problem for me. I just need time to continue improving and return to a more competitive level.”
The 11-time Grand Slam champion will play another clay-court tournament in Mexico in two weeks. You can watch highlights from Rafael Nadal’s Brazil Open finals match in the video below: