Rafael Nadal returned to tennis more than three months after his last appearance and charged into the second round of the Barcelona Open 6-2, 6-3  in a show of clay-court force.

The 12-time champion at his home event who has suffered for months with injury, beat Italian Fabio Cobelli on a showcourt at the Real Club de Tenis named in his honour seven years ago.

The Spaniard who turned 37 in June last competed in the first week of the year, losing a Brisbane quarter-final as he aggravated an abdominal injury.

Nadal is playing on the Catalan clay for the 17th time, with a record of 67 wins and just four defeats.

He is competing here for the first time since winning the 2021 edition over Stefanos Tsitsipas.The veteran with 22 Grand Slam titles last competed in a Tour match on clay when he won Roland Garros in 2022 over Casper Ruud.

Nadal remains a perfect 17-0 in Barcelona opening matches, with his latest win helped by 41 unforced errors from the 62nd-ranked Cobelli.

“I enjoyed an unforgettable moment. I’m happy to start with a victory,” Nadal said.

“I’ve had a lot of comebacks and at an advanced age they get harder

“But it means a lot to  be back on the Tour. It’s enjoyable enough to keep on doing it.”

Nadal will hope to continue on Wednesday when he plays Spain-based Alex de Minaur.

Main photo:- Rafa Nadal celebrates today’s victory by ATPTour.com