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Nadal makes winning return in Chile

updated 9:05 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Eleven-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal made a winning return to singles action on Wednesday, beating Argentine Federico Delbonis. Eleven-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal made a winning return to singles action on Wednesday, beating Argentine Federico Delbonis.
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Rafael Nadal returns in Chile
Winning return
Second seeds beaten
Knee problems
Low expectations
Important meeting
President Pinera
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fifth-ranked Rafael Nadal triumphs in comeback match in Chilean tournament
  • Spaniard teams up with Juan Monaco to win doubles tie in Vina del Mar Open
  • He will play his opening singles match against Federico Del Bonis on Wednesday
  • Nadal had been sidelined for seven months due to longterm knee problems

(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal made a successful return to the tennis court on Tuesday, ending a seven-month injury absence with victory in a doubles match in Chile.

The former world No. 1 teamed up with Argentina's Juan Monaco for his first competitive outing since losing in the second round at Wimbledon in late June 2012.

They enjoyed a 6-3 6-2 victory over the second-seeded Czech pairing of Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy in the first round of the Vina del Mar Open.

It set up Nadal for his opening singles match on Wednesday, having been given a first-round bye as top seed.

"First win with Pico, we felt a great ambiance on court! Thanks to the crowd and you all for the support!" Nadal tweeted.

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Read: Nadal - I must be humble in comeback

The 11-time grand slam champion, who is now ranked fifth in the world as he continues his recovery from knee surgery, will play 128th-ranked Federico Del Bonis.

Del Bonis came from behind to beat fellow Argentine Guido Pella 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-1) on Tuesday.

Nadal said before the claycourt tournament that he would have to be patient in his long-awaited comeback, having missed the season's opening grand slam in Australia due to an illness which delayed his preparations.

"I have to take it slowly and be humble to know that things won't be as good as they were before my injury. I need to be patient," he told reporters in Chile, where he met President Sebastian Pinera when he arrived last Friday.

He practiced with Christian Garin, who on Tuesday became only the fifth 16-year-old to win an ATP World Tour match since 2000.

Ranked 920th, Santiago-born Garin beat Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 on his tour-level debut to set up a clash with French third seed Jeremy Chardy.

Having made his first appearance at the ATP World Tour 250 event, Nadal will next play in Brazil and then Mexico as he seeks to regain match fitness ahead of the European clay season.

The 26-year-old is hoping to add to his record seven French Open titles at Roland Garros in June.

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