Nadal Opens 2017 With Dolgopolov Win In Brisbane

Spanish star goes on to face Mischa Zverev

Rafael Nadal returned to the ATP World Tour for the first time in two-and-a-half months to beat 2012 finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday night at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. The Spanish superstar, who is making his debut at the ATP World Tour 250 hard-court tournament, will next face Mischa Zverev in the second round.

“It’s a beautiful court with great crowd - so it was a great experience,” said Nadal. “I think I played a solid match without too many mistakes. That makes me feel good and happy for the victory, obviously.”

It was a battle between one of the ATP World Tour’s heaviest top-spinners, Nadal, versus one of flattest hitters, Dolgopolov, who gained the first break in the third game. Nadal responded by winning four straight games to wrap up the 36-minute opener and broke Dolgopolov in the fifth and ninth games of the second set. Dolgopolov had won the pair’s previous two meetings at the 2014 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and at the 2015 Aegon Championships in London.

Zverev, who rose 121 spots to a 2016 year-end No. 51 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, overcame qualifier Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-3 in 68 minutes during the evening session.

”He's an offensive player with a great serve, good volley,” said Nadal. “It will be important to be very focused with my serve, when I'm serving, try to be very… aggressive. I cannot let him play comfortably, because if not, I will be in trouble because he goes to the net frequently.”

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