Rafael Nadal suffers defeat, yet exhibits impressive form upon his long-awaited comeback to the tennis court after an 11-month absence.

Rafael Nadal experienced a doubles defeat upon his return to the court after almost a year of being inactive. The 22-time grand slam champion had been out of action since sustaining a hip injury during a second-round match at the Australian Open in January. In June, Nadal underwent surgery and made his competitive comeback at the Brisbane International alongside Marc López, his Olympic gold-winning partner from Rio 2016. Despite their efforts, they lost 6-4, 6-4 to Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson from Australia. However, there were positive signs from the 37-year-old. Thompson commented, “It’s great to see Rafa back…so it’s nice to get him back on a doubles court.” Nadal’s comeback was warmly received by fans, with Spanish flags and supportive messages displayed. The crowd reserved their loudest cheers for his trademark whipped shots and a powerful crosscourt backhand winner in the first set. Nadal is expected to receive a similar reception in his singles match against qualifier Dominic Thiem on Tuesday. He has a 9-6 win-loss record against Thiem and has previously defeated him in the 2018 and 2019 French Open finals.
The former women’s world No. 1, Naomi Osaka, will also make her comeback after a maternity break. She will face Tamara Korpatsch on Monday. Osaka, a 26-year-old from Japan, last competed in September 2022 and became a mother to her daughter Shai in July. Sloane Stephens, the former US Open champion, had a good start to her campaign as she defeated Katerina Siniakova with a score of 7-5, 6-3. Camila Giorgi had a close call but managed to surpass Peyton Stearns with a score of 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. Additionally, the 16-year-old Russian player Mirra Andreeva reached the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Diana Shnaider.
Despite Katie Boulter’s significant victory over world No. 5 Jessica Pegula, the United States defeated Great Britain 2-1 at the United Cup in Perth. Boulter, the British No. 1, surpassed Pegula in the first match on Sunday with a score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. However, both Cameron Norrie and Boulter, along with Neal Skupski in the mixed doubles, faced defeat. The second edition of the mixed international team competition features a reduced format of two singles matches and one doubles match. A win for Great Britain would have secured their place in the quarter-finals. However, all three teams in Group C still have a chance to progress before the final pool match between the US and hosts Australia on Monday.
Pegula seemed to be on track to begin the Americans’ title defense with a victory, winning six consecutive games to take the first set and a 3-0 lead. However, Boulter fought back and achieved her first win over a top-five opponent after seven attempts. Boulter’s previous best was defeating then-world No. 7 Karolina Pliskova in Eastbourne and Wimbledon in 2022. Boulter expressed her satisfaction with her performance and stated, “I felt like I played some really good stuff. I get a lot of confidence from it, I’ve done the work during pre-season and I was very happy with it. I feel like a different player than I was a year ago. I wanted to get some wins by rankings.” Norrie lost to Taylor Fritz in the second singles match, which resulted in the deciding doubles. Fritz emerged victorious with a score of 7-6 (5), 6-4, serving 14 aces compared to the Briton’s three, and with Norrie’s first-serves percentage at just 54%. Boulter and Skupski made a solid start in the mixed doubles match against Pegula and Fritz, but the American pair ultimately won with a score of 1-6, 7-6 (4), 10-7.

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