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Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 17:40 UK

Wimbledon 2010: Rafael Nadal makes winning SW19 return

Wimbledon Championships
Venue: All England Club, London Date: 21 June - 4 July
Coverage:
Live on BBC One and Two, HD, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only), Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra; live text commentary online and on mobile phones; watch again on BBC iPlayer Full details of BBC coverage

Rafael Nadal
Nadal has still never lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament

By David Ornstein
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

World number one Rafael Nadal marked his first Wimbledon appearance since winning the 2008 title with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori.

Second seed Nadal, injured in 2009, broke serve twice in the first set and once in the second to move 2-0 ahead.

The unseeded Nishikori, 20, rallied in the third as breaks were exchanged but his Spanish opponent edged ahead in game seven and served out the match.

Nadal faces Robin Haase in the second round after he overcame James Blake.

But the Dutchman, ranked 151st in the world, is unlikely to hold many fears for Nadal after he celebrated his return to Centre Court with a commanding win against Nishikori.

The 24-year-old has not lost a match at the All England Club since his defeat by Roger Federer in the 2007 final and, on this evidence, it will take some performance to halt his run.

Nadal overjoyed at 'special' comeback

"For me it was very special to come back to the nicest centre court in world," Nadal told BBC Sport. "To be here is unbelievable, I worked so hard to come back.

"The crowd here are always amazing so I want to thank them very much, they make me feel like I'm at home all time. It's amazing to come back.

"It's a difficult change when you come off the clay and it takes time to adapt to the grass, but I love this surface. It's not easy for my game but I've done well here and I'm going to try my best again this year."

A capacity crowd excitedly welcomed Nadal back to the scene of his epic five-set triumph two years previously and he responded by bursting out of the blocks with a break of serve in game one.

Nishikori, contesting his fifth Grand Slam and second Wimbledon, missed most of last season with a right elbow problem and looked somewhat out of his depth in the opening exchanges.

But the Japanese, who had a career-high ranking of 56 before the injury, soon settled and his serve-volley tactics not only drew cheers from the stands but also brought him back-to-back holds.

He also engineered two break points as Nadal's first-serve percentage dipped to 58%, but both were saved by the powerful Majorcan.

606: DEBATE

Despite struggling slightly on his own delivery, Nadal continued to press Nishikori's and broke again in game seven before holding to seal the first set.

Nishikori, the ATP Tour newcomer of the year in 2008, looked more relaxed in the second set, combining rasping winners on both sides with sliced backhands and delicate drop shots.

He struggled, however, to make any impact on the Nadal serve and after being passed with a stunning crosscourt backhand in game nine, he framed a straightforward forehand to hand over a break at the worst possible time.

Nadal served out the set, returning to his chair with a skip and a fist-pump when Nishikori put a return wide, and cranked up the pressure at the start of the third.

Nishikori serve-volleyed his way out of two break points in game one but double-faulted on the third to put Nadal firmly in the driving seat.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion was pegged back in game six when he was wrong-footed by Nishikori on break point but, aided by his opponent's eighth double-fault, hit straight back with a forehand winner to re-establish his advantage.

Quick service holds were then exchanged before Nadal wrapped up the win with a smash and maintained his record of never having lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament.



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see also
Murray eases through at Wimbledon
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Eighth seed Verdasco crashes out
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Serena sees off De Brito at SW19
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Three more Britons in early exits
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Sixth seed Stosur in shock exit
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Wimbledon 2010 - day two photos
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Wimbledon day two as it happened
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Grand Slam men singles results
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Men's singles draw
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Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis
Nadal wins epic Wimbledon final
06 Jul 08 |  Tennis


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