Rafael Nadal has made a fine start in his return from injury, defeating Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets to reach the third round at the Madrid Open.

Nadal showed few signs of rustiness after being out of action for 45 days in his 6-1 7-6 (7-4) opening win on home clay.

He cruised through the first set and recovered in the second after twice losing his serve following a rain interruption.

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The victory lasted nearly two hours, but it was quick enough to allow Nadal to watch Real Madrid’s Champions League match later on Wednesday night in the Spanish capital.

Tournament organisers said Nadal had asked to play in the afternoon so his match wouldn’t coincide with Madrid’s semifinal game against Manchester City.

Nadal is a Madrid fan and on Saturday gave the ceremonial kick-off at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium before the team clinched the Spanish league title with a win against Espanyol.

The fourth-ranked Nadal had been out after a rib stress fracture halted his great start to the season, highlighted by winning his record 21st grand slam at the Australian Open.

“Coming from injury, I always need to play many matches to regain my best form,” Nadal said. “Winning is very important to give me confidence.”

Nadal got injured in the semi-finals in Indian Wells in March, going on to lose the final to Taylor Fritz for his first defeat of the season and then missing tournaments in Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

The third seed has been downplaying expectations of winning his sixth Madrid Open title, and first since 2017 but he looked sharp in the first set, breaking serve twice against the 32nd-ranked Kecmanovic.

He struggled more after the match was interrupted for about half an hour with Kecmanovic leading 1-0 in the second set as the centre-court roof had to be closed.

Nadal was broken twice, including while serving for the match at 6-5, but eventually prevailed in the tiebreaker by converting his first match point with an ace.

He could face a quarter-final against Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz, and a semi-final against either top-ranked Novak Djokovic or former No.1 Andy Murray.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev earlier rallied past Marin Cilic 4-6 6-4 6-4 to set up a third-round encounter with American Sebastian Korda.

Qualifier Dusan Lajovic upset fifth-seeded Casper Ruud 7-6 (9-7) 2-6 6-4 while ninth-seeded Cameron Norrie defeated American John Isner 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4.