Rafael Nadal ‘very happy’ with win after ‘roller-coaster’ recovery, saying ‘I have had better days, worse days’

A delighted Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal notched a “really important” victory at the Madrid Open as he believes the win will aid his recovery and help him to regain his rhythm following his injury layoff.

Playing in his first match since the Indian Wells Open final after picking up a rib injury, Nadal secured up a comfortable 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) win over Miomir Kecmanovic in his first match on clay this season.

After more than five weeks on the sidelines, the 21-time Grand Slam winner was delighted with his one-hour and 55-minute workout in his comeback match.

“I left the match very, very happy,” the Spaniard said. “You have to be sincere with yourself whenever you can. You have to be truthful to yourself. My preparation has not existed. You cannot expect great things at the beginning, because before coming here, my first day training was last Thursday.

“I have trained very, very little. I trained one day, and all the training has had some up-and-downs. It’s been a roller-coaster. I have had better days, worse days. It’s logical.

“I think that yesterday [Tuesday] I started to feel a little bit better, and today also in the warm-up I was feeling well. I think that in general I played a good match.

“If you come back and if you win the first matches, then you’re able to get your rhythm back again. Whereas if you come back and you lose and you lose, you end up in a circle of losing that you don’t get the rhythm of matches.

“So the first matches are key. They have a really big value, and for me this victory is really important for that reason.”

Nadal, of course, is building towards the French Open where he will be looking for a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros.

He is expected to conclude his preparations at the Italian Open next week, but for now he is happy that he is pain free.

“There are injuries that allow you to do physical work, aerobic work. The rib has not allowed me to do anything … but I’m not worried. I just think that every minute that I am out there on the court is something positive,” he said.

“I don’t have any pain in my rib. I had a little bit of pain at the beginning of the week, and then I went to get a MRI so they could check it, Friday or Saturday when I came here, and the image on the machine was good.”