© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Rafael Nadal defeated Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday in Madrid.

Nadal: 'It's Been A Rollercoaster'

Spaniard made winning return to the ATP Tour Wednesday in Madrid

Rafael Nadal revealed that he was delighted with his opening-round win against Miomir Kecmanovic following his return to the ATP Tour. However, he once again stressed the need for patience as he looks to build up his fitness at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The Spaniard overcame the Serbian 6-1, 7-6(4) on Manolo Santana Stadium in his first match since he suffered a rib injury in March.

“I leave the match very, very happy,” Nadal said in his post-match press conference. “You have to be sincere with yourself whenever you can. You have to be truthful to yourself. My preparation has not existed. You cannot expect great things at the beginning, because before coming here, first day training was last Thursday. I have trained very, very little.

“I had trained one day, and all training has had some up-and-downs. It's been a rollercoaster. I have had better days, worse days. It's logical. I think that yesterday I started to feel a little bit better, and today also in the pre warmup I was feeling well. I think that in general I have played a good match.”

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The World No. 4 has performed well when returning from injury setbacks in recent years, with his triumph at the Australian Open in January a perfect example. Nadal missed the second half of 2021 with a foot injury, but made a winning return in Australia, clinching the Melbourne Summer Set title before he earned a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam crown at the Aussie Open.

The 35-year-old feels that his second-round win in Madrid is a crucial step in the right direction as he aims to build momentum once again.

“Today I was able to play one hour [and] 55 minutes against an opponent that was playing really well in these past months, so [it is] a really good victory,” Nadal said. “A lot of value to it. One hour [and] 55 minutes on court helps me a lot to reach my final goal, which is to recover my previous health and previous fitness. I'm very excited about it.

“If you come back and if you win the first matches, then you're able to get your rhythm back again. Whereas if you come back and you lose and you lose, you end up in a circle of losing that you don't get the rhythm of matches. So the first matches are key. They have a really big value, and for me today’s victory is really important for that reason.”

Nadal will be aiming to win his sixth title in Madrid this week and next faces Belgian David Goffin. The 91-time tour-level champion is grateful for the opportunity to play on home soil once again in the Spanish capital.

“Playing in Spain is something really, really important, and here in Madrid, the support and love of the people it's always been unconditional,” Nadal said. “I am conscious of my age that I don't know how many more times I'm going to be able to have the opportunity to play here in front of these people, so I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.”

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