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Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem LIVE: Brisbane International result as Spaniard makes tennis return

The 37-year-old Spaniard was in impressive form as he dismissed Thiem 7-5 6-1 in his first match in almost 12 months

Ben Fleming
Tuesday 02 January 2024 11:33 GMT
"Ready to compete" - Nadal returns to action at the Brisbane International after 12-month absence

Rafael Nadal marked his singles comeback after being out injured for nearly a year with a convincing 7-5 6-1 victory over Austrian former world number three Dominic Thiem in the Brisbane International first round.

The 22-times grand slam champion had arthroscopic surgery last June after injuring his left hip flexor during his second round defeat by Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in early 2023.

Nadal returned to competitive tennis in the new season on Sunday and crashed to a doubles defeat while partnering retired veteran Marc Lopez but showed glimpses of his top form ahead of the first grand slam of the season.

The 37-year-old looked razor sharp again during his latest meeting with qualifier Thiem in a rematch of their 2018 and 2019 French Open finals which he won, as he ramped up the pressure and claimed the opening set with a break.

Roared on by fans inside a heaving Pat Rafter Arena, Nadal grabbed an early break in the second set with a superb backhand pass and barely looked back as he racked up a 5-1 lead before closing out the match on serve.

Relive all the action from the Brisbane International below


Rafael Nadal makes impressive winning return in Brisbane after ‘toughest year’

Rafael Nadal returned from his year-long injury absence with a bang by winning an engrossing first-round battle with Dominic Thiem at the Brisbane International.

The 22-time grand slam champion had not played since damaging his hip during a second-round match at the 2023 Australian Open.

But, with this year’s Melbourne major on the horizon, he gave a timely reminder of his talents with a box-office performance en route to an impressive 7-5 6-1 success in an hour and 29 minutes.

Rafael Nadal makes impressive winning return in Brisbane after ‘toughest year’

The Spaniard had not played since injuring his hip during last year’s Australian Open

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 11:33

Nadal’s second-round opponent revealed

Moments after levelling the match, Aslan Karatsev has been forced to retire having sustained what appears to be a knee injury. That means that wildcard Jason Kubler prevails and will go on to face Nadal in the second round tomorrow.

What an opportunity for the Australian.

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 11:22

The full reflections from Rafa after the win

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 11:17

Back like he never left

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Ben Fleming2 January 2024 11:11

Next up for Nadal

The Spaniard will be back in action tomorrow, although his opponent is not confirmed yet. He will play the winner of World No.35 Aslan Karatsev vs Australia’s Jason Kubler.

That game is currently in its third set, with Karatsev bouncing back after losing the first set.

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 11:04

Emotional Emma Raducanu celebrates winning return to tennis after ‘difficult’ injury layoff

On the topic of winning returns, there was an emotional victory for Britain’s Emma Raducanu, who clinched a gutsy three-set win over Elena-Gabriela Ruse in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland.

The former British No 1, who was playing her first match since April following operations on both her wrists and one ankle, held off a fightback from the Romanian qualifier to progress 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Her preparations for the upcoming Australian Open will continue with a tough last-16 tie against second seed Elina Svitolina.

Emma Raducanu celebrates winning return to tennis after ‘difficult’ injury layoff

The 2021 US Open champion was playing her first match since April following operations on both her wrists and one ankle

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 11:00

The winning moment

It was a comprehensive win in that second set. Here’s the winning point for the Spaniard:

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 10:56

Nadal speaking after his win

“Today is an emotional and important day after one of the toughest years of my tennis career. I played at a very positive level for my first day [back] and that will make me, my team and my family feel proud - they have been there every single day during the last year.

“The first set was very equal with both of us serving well. Then I was able to grab that break at 6-5 so that made a difference. I know Dominic has been going through some hard times with injuries too so I’m happy to see him back on court and I wish him all the very best for the season.

“I missed being healthy, feeling myself competitive and playing in front of full crowds like this. I can’t thank enough everyone.”

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 10:47

Nadal 7-5 6-1 Thiem

Thiem looked good in that first set but fell away significantly in that second set as errors crept into his game. Rafa, meanwhile, looked imperious on his serve and took the opportunities that were presented to him in a clinical fashion.

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 10:43

GAME, SET, MATCH! Nadal 7-5 6-1 Thiem

Another ball flies long for Thiem as Nadal takes the opening point of this must-win game for Thiem. And it’s a poor shot again from the Austrian, netting his return to Rafa’s second serve to move the Spaniard 30-0 up.

A first double fault of the game from Nadal might give Thiem a slight opening but it’s just the sixth point he’s lost on serve and is quickly followed by a superb serve out wide to bring up two match points.

He only needs one! Thiem is sent sprawling all over the court and Nadal simply has to dink the ball over the net to conclude a resounding second set and claim victory on his return after a year-long layoff.

Remarkable tennis from the Spaniard!

Ben Fleming2 January 2024 10:39

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