King Of Clay Is Back: Nadal Makes Impressive Return With Crushing Win In Barcelona

King Of Clay Is Back: Nadal Makes Impressive Return With Crushing Win In Barcelona

by Zachary Wimer

After weeks of uncertainty, Rafael Nadal returned at the 2024 Barcelona Open and delivered a great performance, beating Flavio Cobolli in two sets.

Even though it's only been a few weeks, it seems like we've waited so long to see Nadal back on a tennis court. The last time we saw him was at the Netflix Slam, where he gave Carlos Alcaraz a good fight before capitulating in three sets.

He withdrew from all subsequent events, including the Monte-Carlo Masters, which caused some panic among fans, but don't worry—he's back. The King of Clay is back.

Nadal is still tremendous on the red dirt, regardless of whether he's in form or not. A video of him dismantling Andrey Rublev during a practice set a few days ago certainly made the rounds, but some attributed it to Rublev's own bad play recently.

It seems it's more than that; it's Nadal just being really good on the surface. He showed it once more against Cobolli in his first-round match, comfortably outplaying the rising Italian, who struggled a lot.

Cobolli certainly knows his way around a tennis court, but in this match, he looked overwhelmed as Nadal unleashed the beast, making just too many unforced errors.

The 22-time major winner needed only 43 minutes to win the opening set against the Italian, who really struggled on his second serve. He only won 6 of 18 of those rallies, as Nadal was aggressive from the get-go.

He created eight break points in that opening set and used two for the rather nice 6-2 scoreline. The second set would also open with an early break, but Cobolli found a minor crack in Nadal's armor.

He would break back immediately, so the score was 2-1 and not 3-0 as fans in Barcelona probably envisioned. It wouldn't matter too much because Nadal broke again in the next game to take a 3-1 lead and then held easily for the 4-1 lead.

Nadal then held from there in what was an impressive return for the Spaniard, who won 6-2, 6-3, but how long will he be able to keep it up is the real question.


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