After almost five months, the 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal is back in action on the ATP Tour, entering the doubles draw at the ATP 250 event in Melbourne. The Spaniard joined forces with the young compatriot Jaume Munar, facing Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Court 13 at Melbourne Park and beating the Argentines 6-3, 3-6, 10-4 in an hour and 15 minutes.
Both teams claimed 13 return points to stay neck and neck in sets one and two before the Spaniards stepped in in the match tie break to seal the deal and advance into the second round. Nadal and Munar dictated the pace behind the initial shot in the opening set, serving well and delivering one break to forge the lead.
From 0-30, Rafa held in the opening game before Jaume claimed the third game at love to open a 2-1 gap.
Rafael Nadal and Jaume Munar made a winning start in Melbourne.
Both Baez and Etcheverry served well in their opening service games to lock the result at 2-2, and Munar secured the fifth game with a volley winner at the net to keep the Spaniard ahead.
In the sixth game, Jaume won another point at the net to earn a break at love and push him and Rafa 4-2 in front. The younger Spaniard held at 30 in the seventh game, and Nadal wrapped up the opener with a service winner in game nine for 6-3.
Baez and Etcheverry saved two break points at the beginning of the second set and broke Nadal in the second game when Munar failed to control a volley at the net. The Argentines held with a volley winner in the third game to extend the lead, and both teams served well in the rest of the set.
Etcheverry served at 5-3 and brought it home at love to wrap up the set and force a match tie break. Rafa landed a beautiful backhand down the line winner at 1-1 for a mini-break and won the following two points on serve for a 4-1 advantage.
Etcheverry hit a double fault in the seventh point, and Munar pushed his team 8-4 ahead with a smash winner. Rafa extended the lead with an unreturned serve, and the Spaniard sealed the deal when Baez's volley landed wide in the 14th point to book a place in the second round. Nadal will play his first singles match on Thursday.