No problems for Nadal in Chile
Rafael Nadal recovered from a poor start to coast past Federico Delbonis in his first singles match in almost eight months in the second round of the VTR Open in Chile.
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Nadal made his return to competitive tennis on Tuesday alongside Juan Monaco in the doubles, but Wednesday marked his first singles match since a shock second-round defeat against Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon last June.
The former world number one, who has been blighted by a knee injury and illness since then, overcame a tricky start to triumph 6-3 6-2.
Nadal was given a first-round bye in Vina del Mar but he lost the first two games against his Argentine opponent on Wednesday.
The Spaniard stormed back, however, and shook off any fears of rust by taking 10 of the next 11 games before sealing his passage into the next round after 87 minutes.
There looked to be no signs the 11-time major winner was struggling with the injury that ruled him out for most of the last half of 2012.
Nadal was forced to abort his return from a knee problem in December after being struck down by a stomach virus - an illness which ruled him out of last month's Australian Open.
He is guaranteed to play a fellow Spaniard in the quarter-final, with Albert Montanes and seventh seed Daniel Gimeno-Traver playing on Thursday for the right to face the top seed.
"The beginning was tough and Federico played at a very high level," the 11-time grand slam winner said afterwards. "I ran a lot and I'm happy because the knee held up well."
Nadal is keen to spend as much time as possible building up his match sharpness.
"I'm happy to play a singles match after so long,'' he said on the ATP Tour's official website. "I need days and time to get my game back, but so far the feeling on court is great.
"For now the most important thing is to spend as much time as possible on court. This victory allows me to play at least two more matches, singles and doubles.
"To practise is one thing but to play is totally different. In a real match you can't control your body as you do in practice."
Second seed Juan Monaco could not join the 11-time major winner in the quarter-finals, suffering a 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 defeat against world number 93 Guillaume Rufin.
The defending champion was constantly bothered on serve and Rufin managed to seize two of 10 break point opportunities to seal a surprise win in one hour and 32 minutes.
The Frenchman will next play another Argentinian, with eighth seed and last year's runner-up Carlos Berlocq edging out Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 7-5 4-6 6-4.
In first round action, Albert Ramos breezed past Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-4 6-1, Daniel Gimeno-Traver beat Joao Sousa 6-4 4-6 6-1, while Paolo Lorenzi was a 6-1 6-4 winner over fellow Italian Gianluca Naso.