Rafael Nadal made a winning return to the ATP Tour after securing a straight-sets victory over Aljaz Bedene in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters.
The world number one was making his first appearance on tour since suffering a hip injury at the Australian Open in January although he did help Spain progress through in the Davis Cup earlier this month, winning both his rubbers against Germany.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner appeared to be on top form against Slovenian Bedene, easing to a 6-1 6-3 success in just 79 minutes at Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nadal is looking to win an unprecedented 11th title in Monte Carlo and knows how crucial it was to make a statement in his first match back.
“It’s a very important one for me,” the Spaniard said.
“It’s very important to start with a victory, that helps. And I’m going to try and keep going.”
Next up for Nadal is a third-round clash with Russia’s Karen Khachanov, who progressed after seeing off experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon in straight sets.
Playing two matches in as many days is likely to be a further test of Nadal’s fitness although the 31-year-old is hopeful he can withstand the challenge.
He added: “It’s going to be a very tough one. I’m going to need to be ready to play a very high intensity and a high level of tennis if I want to have success.”
Nadal is priced at 1.05 to beat Khachanov, who is available at 8.00 to cause a surprise and knock the defending champion out on his favourite surface.