Rafael Nadal continues his comeback with a doubles win at the Brazil Open
Last Updated: February 13, 2013 10:21am
Spain's Rafael Nadal continued his road to rehabilitation when he teamed up with Argentina's David Nalbandian to post a three-set doubles victory at the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo.
The world number five and his partner won 6-3, 3-6, 11-9 in just 79 minutes over fellow Spaniards Pablo Andujar and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round of the ATP clay court event.
Nadal, who was sporting a white knee brace following his seven-month absence, is widely considered by many to be the best ever clay-court player and was back on court just days after losing both the singles and doubles final in the Vina del Mar Open in Chile on Sunday.
Both Nadal and Nalbandian were made to work hard in the third set, saving two match points before prevailing 11-9 and the duo will return on Wednesday for the second round.
As the top seed, Nadal enjoyed a first-round singles bye and will open his singles campaign on Thursday.
Speaking before his match on Tuesday, Nadal, who was greeted by rapturous applause when he appeared on court, was keen to downplay expectations.
He said: "I am a bit tired after a hard week in Chile. But it was positive. The process of recovery follows its course. As always I come here to do the best possible and hope that things turn out all right."
Asked when he expected to be 100 percent fit, he said: "I cannot know the future. If my knee allows, I will do everything possible to be at my best.
"I am a player who plays with a lot of passion, a lot of energy. I suppose that does not help the knee."
Nadal, who has been sidelined by a torn tendon and inflammation in his left knee, only to suffer further setback with a stomach virus, was keen to look to the future and in particular his unfinished business with the Olympics, a title he was unable to defend at London 2012.
"My long-term objective is to be in Brazil in 2016 (for the Rio Summer Olympics). I am going to work to arrive in good conditions at what are likely to be my last Olympics," he said.
In the singles event, Fifth seed Thomaz Bellucci held on to beat fellow Brazilian Guilherme Clezar 7-6 (7/4) 5-7 7-6 (7/1) in the first round, while Spain's eighth seed Albert Ramos also progressed as he beat compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 7-5.
Filippo Volandri saved two match points on his way to a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8/6) over Daniel Gimeno-Traver, while Argentina's Guido Pella ousted sixth seed Fabio Fognini 7-6 (8/6) 1-6 6-1 and Carlos Berlocq saw off Andrey Kuznetsov in straight sets.