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Bitter Return to Court for Nadal

Rafael NadalRafael Nadal

After a two-month layoff, Rafael Nadal returned to the court for the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament and suffered defeat to Richard Gasquet.

In their exhibition clash in Melbourne on Tuesday, the Spaniard was not at his sharpest as he went down to a 6-4 7-5 defeat, Marca reported.

However, the bright spot for Nadal is that there were no signs of any issues with his knee, which had plagued him at times in 2017.

An even first set reached the 4-4 mark on serve before the Frenchman broke his opponent and followed up with a hold to take it 6-4.

Two breaks put Gasquet into a commanding 3-0 lead in the second set and although Nadal followed up with a spirited fightback, the 31-year-old finished strongly to take it in straight sets.

“Last year was long so I started my preparations a little later than usual,” Nadal said afterwards. “It wasn’t an official match, but obviously it was a good test and good training for me. Now I need to continue working hard over the next few days to get ready for the Australian Open.”

He is in action again on Wednesday at the Tie Break Tens event at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena, which also features Novak Djokovic. Elsewhere, another Spanish player, Pablo Carreno, enjoyed a morale boosting victory in exhibition form as he overcame David Goffin 1-6 7-6 6-3.

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