Nadal's return from injury ends in 2nd round defeat in Barcelona

<p>Rafael Nadal <em>(Anadolu file photo)</em></p>

Rafael Nadal (Anadolu file photo)

BARCELONA – Rafael Nadal's return from injury at the Barcelona Open ended in the second round on Wednesday when he was beaten 7-5, 6-1 by Australian 4th seed Alex de Minaur in an hour and 50 minutes.

The 37-year-old Spaniard competed well with the world number 10 in the first set, before his lack of fitness told in the second set, which the Australian won with relative ease.

The former world number one and 12-time winner in Barcelona, Nadal progressed to the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Italy's Flavio Coboli on Tuesday and had commented that he had felt good in his first match since the opening week of January, although he admitted he "wasn't sure" he would be able to keep up the pace.

The Spaniard looked slightly sluggish on court and quickly saw his serve broken, but he was able to break back to 3-3 and played some of his best tennis of the match to move 4-3 ahead to the cheers of the 8,000 fans.

However, de Minaur reacted and broke Nadal twice in the following games to take the set 7-5.

He quickly moved 4-1 up in the second set and although Nadal had options to break in the next game, de Minaur held on and then served out to win the match.

Nadal has said this is likely to be his last year of competition and he was given an emotional ovation by the fans who he has delighted for so many years.

Other results in Barcelona on Wednesday saw Roberto Bautista Agut beat Andrea Vavassori 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, while third seed Casper Ruud moved into the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Alexandre Muller.

Number six seed Ugo Humbert went out after a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Dusan Lajovic and ninth seed Nicolas Jarry also lost 7-6(5) 6-3 against Marco Trungelliti. (Xinhua)