- Rafael Nadal wins on his return to singles action
- The former world No. 1 beats Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-3 6-2
- The 11-time grand slam winner has been out for seven months with a knee injury
- The Spaniard made his return in a doubles victory on Tuesday
Former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal was back in singles action for the first time in seven months Wednesday, making a winning return on the clay courts he has dominated so emphatically in recent years.
Having not played a singles match since his shock defeat to Lukas Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon last year due to a left knee injury, a little rustiness was perhaps to be expected.
But, after losing the first two games of his match with Argentine Federico Delbonis, the 11-time grand slam champion recovered to record a morale-boosting 6-3 6-2 victory in the second round of the Chile Open in Vina del Mar.
"I'm happy to play a singles match after so long," the 26-year-old told the ATP World Tour's website. "I need days and time to get my game back, but so far the feeling on court is great."
The Spaniard, who has dropped to fifth in the world rankings during his long absence, made his much-anticipated return in a doubles match Tuesday.
Nadal partnered up with Argentina's Juan Monaco to beat the Czech pairing of Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy.
"For now the most important thing is to spend as much time as possible on court," added Nadal. "This victory allows me to play at least two more matches, singles and doubles.
"To practice is one thing but to play is totally different. In a real match you can't control your body as you do in practice."
Nadal's focus will be firmly on the French Open, the year's second grand slam which begins in May in Paris.
The Mallorca native has ruled the Roland Garros event in recent years, winning seven of the last eight events.
His hopes of marking his comeback by claiming the title in Chile were boosted by the defeat of World No.15 Monaco.
The defending champion and second seed was shocked 7-6 6-4 by the 93rd ranked Guillaume Rufin of France, who recorded just his second career win over a top 20 player.