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Rafael Nadal makes comeback with victory

Spain’s Rafael Nadal launched his return from a seven-month injury break by teaming with Argentina’s Juan Monaco for an emphatic doubles victory in the ATP clay court event here on Tuesday.

The return of the world number five, playing his first tournament since he was beaten in the second round at Wimbledon by Czech journeyman Lukas Rosol in late June, is the focus of attention at the $410,200 tournament.

In a warm-up for his singles match on Wednesday, Nadal teamed with Monaco to post a 6-3, 6-2 victory in just 65 minutes over second seeds Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy in the first round of the doubles.

As the top seed, the 11-time Grand Slam champion enjoyed a first-round singles bye and will open his singles campaign with a second-round clash against Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis.

Delbonis beat compatriot Guido Pella 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/1).

Nadal, who will be 27 in June, has been careful to play down expectations, saying he still has some pain from his troublesome knees and doesn’t expect to immediately rediscover his old winning ways in his first tournament back.

‘My aim is to compete courageously and hopefully the knee will stand up to it,’ Nadal said this week.


JAPAN DREAMS FOR GIANT RUSSIA KILL


Japan is dreaming of upsetting four-time champions Russia in this weekend’s Fed Cup quarter-final here, veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm said Wednesday. Former World No.4 Date-Krumm, 42, is the oldest woman on the WTA tour and was part of the Japanese team that beat Steffi Graf’s Germany in 1996 to put Japan on the map in world tennis. ‘I’ll try my best. Of course it’s Russia, it’s very tough, but we have to dream,’ Date-Krumm said.  ‘In 1996 we beat Germany, when Steffi (Graf) was there, so we will try to do our best.’ Japan’s highest-ranked player is World No.57 Ayumi Morita, while 84th-ranked Misaki Doi and 153rd-ranked Kurumi Nara are also in the team. The winner meets either Serbia or Slovakia.
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