Rafael Nadal made a winning return to the court with a straight-sets victory in Mexico in his first match since claiming his 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
Nadal defeated American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-2 in the first round of the Mexican Open in Acapulco, bringing his winning streak to 11 – the equal best start to an ATP Tour during his career.
It was a comfortable triumph for the three-time Acapulco champion, as Kudla struggled to keep up and ended the match without a break point.
“It has been a positive start, a good victory in straight sets. That’s always very positive for the confidence,” Nadal told ATP after his win.
“I think I played a very solid match, a good effort today. Of course there are a couple of things that I can do better, but in general terms, I played well so I can’t complain at all.”
Meanwhile, Daniil Medvedev – world number two and Nadal’s losing opponent at the Australian Open – also advanced in straight sets after defeating Benoit Paire in Acapulco.
The win set Medvedev up with the potential to surpass Novak Djokovic as world number one if he wins when he plays again on Monday.
Despite winning in two sets, the Russian told ATP he did not feel 100% during the match.
“It’s always not easy to come back after some rest and some time off competition,” Medvedev said.
“Sometimes (it is) better, sometimes (it is) worse. I felt like my sensations were not at the top today, but I managed to fight until the end against a very tough opponent and I’m happy that I managed to win.”
British number one Cameron Norrie, fresh from securing his third ATP Tour title with a victory over Reilly Opelka in the final of the Delray Beach Open, also triumphed with a win over Daniel Altmaier.
Norrie won 7-6(5) 6-2 over his German opponent, bringing his winning streak to five.
The world number 12 will now face American John Isner in the final 16.