Nadal back on trophy trail
Rafael Nadal celebrated a title win in his second tournament back following seven months out injured as he swept aside David Nalbandian in straight sets in the final of the Brazil Open.
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Nadal's 51st victory on the ATP Tour was rarely in doubt as he dismissed his Argentinian opponent 6-2 6-3 in just 78 minutes.
The win ended a title drought stretching back to last year's French Open, since when the Spaniard has been sidelined by tendon trouble in his left knee.
Nadal made his long-awaited comeback at last week's claycourt event in Vina Del Mar but surprisingly missed out on the title after losing in three sets to unheralded Argentinian Horacio Zeballos the final.
Nadal and Nalbandian have seen a lot of each other this week after they also entered the doubles draw, although that partnership ended prematurely when Nadal withdrew after one match to protect his knee.
His decision looked shrewd as he claimed two breaks in a one-sided first set, while in the second he was able to move through the gears when required as he recovered from 0-3 down to take six games in a row and with it his 37th career clay-court title.
The 26-year-old's last win at the Brazil Open came in 2005 and was one of his earliest titles on the ATP World Tour.
"Brazil will always be in my heart, this is the second time I have been here," Nadal told the crowd after his victory.
"In 2005 big things started to happen for me after winning here and I hope this time again it is the start of something good."
He added: "I'll definitely enjoy this one because of all the problems that I've gone through with the knee.
"When the knee is feeling better like today I feel like that I can do more of the things that I used to do my entire life.
"If the pain is bearable like it was today, then it's fine."
Nadal's bid to return to full fitness ahead of his French Open title defence continues at the Mexican Open beginning a week on Monday. He is then due to head for the hardcourts of Indian Wells and Miami.
Nadal, who claimed the 37th claycourt title of his career, added: "Right now I am only focusing on celebrating today's title. I am not in a position to think too far ahead; I need to think day by day, week by week.
"Let's see how my knee feels in Acapulco. We will analyse at the end of this clay swing what happened in these last three tournaments and I will see if I am ready to play in Indian Wells."