The champion returned six and a half months later and did it through the front door. Rafael Nadal He returned 199 days later as if nothing had changed on the clay of Rome in a scenario that has seen him triumph up to nine times, more than any other tennis player.


On at 20:42 CEST

The coronavirus stopped him in his tracks after lifting the title in the ATP 500 in Acapulco on March 1. He did not want to risk and canceled his presence in the first two dates of the calendar (Cincinnati Masters 1000 and US Open) played in New York. He decided to wait at home trained close to his own and this Wednesday it was time to return.

He made his debut against a player he knows very well how he is Pablo Carreño, who had already won up to five times and overwhelmed him in comfortable two sets (6-1 and 6-1) and just over an hour into the game. “Maybe Pablo was a bit tired from his big tournament in New York. I was solid with good forehand and backhand shots and not missing much. I honestly did not expect to play this game so well“, he assured at the foot of the court after the game.

His rival, who returned to repeat the semifinals in the New York ‘Major’, endured a couple of games the rhythm of the Balearic who did not step on the clay to compete since Roland Garros last year. In little more than half an hour, Rafa The first set was awarded with an improper solvency of a tennis player who has not competed for more than half a year and who met a semifinalist from the last US Open.

The script did not change in the second set. Another early break of Rafa that, by sensations, already seemed the end of the path of Carreno in Rome. Nadal He accelerated again with another break on his favorite surface to add his first ‘post’ coronavirus victory in an unrecognizable Italic Forum without the presence of fans in the stands. “I missed the fans. I hope to see them next year,” he said. First step of the ’emperor’ Rafa on his return to the ATP circuit. His 10th crown in Rome is a little closer.