Record 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal said Francisco Cerundol was a very difficult first round opponent and added he was glad to make a winning return to Wimbledon. On Tuesday, Nadal overcame a tricky Wimbledon opener as he beat Cerundolo in four sets 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4.
After winning the third set, Cerundolo was up by a break in the fourth set and had a 4-2 lead but Nadal responded by winning four games in a row to complete a four-set win. "First of all, all the credit to Fran. I think he started to play great and [was] a very tough opponent," Nadal said in his on-court interview, per the ATP website.
"It's obvious that for me it's been three years without being here, without playing on this amazing surface, so very happy to be back. For me, it's always amazing playing here on this court and I can't thank everyone enough for the support."
Nadal returns to Wimbledon for the first time since 2019
In 2019, Nadal reached the Wimbledon semifinal before losing to Roger Federer. The whole grass season was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, while Nadal skipped the grass season last year because of a foot injury.
"It's not a surface that we play very often, and especially in my case, for different reasons, as I said the past three years I didn't put any foot on a grass court, so it always takes a while," Nadal said.
"It was my first match and as I know, every day is a test and today was one of these important tests. I know at the beginning of the tournament especially, under the circumstances that I arrived here, the victory is the most important thing because that gives me the chance to practise tomorrow again and to have another match in two days. I'm happy for that, without a doubt." In the second round, Nadal faces Ricardas Berankis.