2021 in Review: Rafael Nadal makes winning return in Monte Carlo

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2021 in Review: Rafael Nadal makes winning return in Monte Carlo

The 11-time Monte Carlo champion Rafael Nadal stayed away from the court for two months before returning in the Principality in April. The king of clay defeated Federico Delbonis 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 20 minutes to advance into the third round.

Nadal played on a high level to deliver the 390th Masters 1000 triumph and the 72nd from 77 Monte Carlo encounters, losing serve once and stealing the rival's serve five times to control the pace and bring the victory home.

Delbonis played a bit better in set number two, but it was not enough for a more favorable result. Nadal won a set against Delbonis 6-1 for the fifth time, dominating on serve and return in the opener to ensure it in 30 minutes.

Rafa took 26 out of 39 points, giving away five points behind the initial shot and securing two breaks for a massive lead. The Spaniard had ten winners and four unforced errors and left the Argentine on two winners and 11 mistakes.

Nadal had an enormous advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes and a nice lead in the most extended ones for a one-sided result. The 11-time champion grabbed the first game with a forehand down the line winner and opened a 2-0 advantage with an early break following a deep return that Delbonis failed to control.

In game three, the Spaniard confirmed the lead with a service winner and moved 4-0 in front after Federico's double fault. World no. 3 held at love in game five to move further ahead and brought the set home in style with a forehand winner at 5-1.

Rafael Nadal defeated Federico Delbonis to advance into Monte Carlo R3.

Continuing where he left in the previous one, Rafa kicked off the second set with a break after converting the third chance with a mighty forehand.

Delbonis netted a backhand in game two and drew further away from a positive result. The Argentine got broken in the third game following Nadal's forehand down the line, unable to find free points from serve or impose his forehand.

Suddenly, Federico created four break chances in the fourth game, seizing the last to secure his first break and extend the encounter. Finding his serve and forehand, the Argentine saved a break chance at 1-3 and closed it with a service winner after two deuces to remain in touch.

Rafa claimed the sixth game to stay in front and grabbed a break in the next one to forge a 5-2 advantage and notice the finish line within his sight. Serving for the victory in game eight, Nadal wasted a match point before fending off a break chance with a forehand winner.

Delbonis erased the second match point with a volley winner before Nadal seized the third to move over the top and advance into the last 16, celebrating the first victory since the Australian Open fourth round.