After a long absence of 349 days, the roar of the lion once again echoed in Brisbane. Rafael Nadal, the king of clay and former world number one, marked his return in emphatic style with a straight sets victory (6-7, 6-1) over Dominic Thiem in the first round of the Brisbane International.
Nadal's first singles match in almost a year, after his doubles appearance with Marco Lopez on New Year's Eve, led to a big reveal. And he revealed the level of dominance that has graced him throughout his career. Despite facing an opponent who boasted six previous wins over him, Nadal displayed a potent mix of controlled aggression and brilliant strategy, leaving Thiem powerless.
The opening set was a hotly contested affair, with both players holding serve comfortably. The tension crackled, but neither blinked until the last game. Serving to force a tiebreak, Thiem faltered spectacularly. Nadal seized the opportunity like a predator, grabbing four consecutive breaks and the set in one move.
This decisive moment proved to be a turning point, lowering Thiem's morale and paving the way for a dominant second set.
An incredible 1,069. singles triumph
Nadal, fueled by the momentum and roar of the Brisbane crowd, unleashed his full arsenal.
Two more breaks cemented his authority, securing a 6-1 victory and notching his 1,069th. singles triumph into the record books. With this milestone, he surpassed tennis legend Ivan Lendl. Nadal's return also ignited the tournament in Brisbane, injecting energy into the subsequent matches.
Matteo Arnaldi won in three sets against Marton Fučovic, while Jordan Thomspon cruised past fellow Australian Aleksandar Vukić. The biggest upset of the day came from Lukas Klein, ranked 170 in the world, who took down highly ranked Sebastian Baes (28) in a thrilling three-set clash.
Nadal's journey in Brisbane continues with a second-round clash against Jason Kubler. As the tournament progresses, the tennis world is excited about the return of the legendary Spaniard. The Brisbane Open, the testing ground before the Australian Open, now awaits Nadal's next chapter, and all eyes will definitely be on him.