Rafael Nadal raises clay-court concerns after battling Madrid Open win

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Rafael Nadal admitted he needed to “learn” to play on clay again following first match back after a six-week injury layoff, in which he defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 7-6(4). The world No 4 suffered a stress fracture in his rib but was still finding his feet on the surface again after playing fewer matches on the dirt in recent years.

Nadal needed almost two hours to come through his first match in 45 days against the world No 32. He was broken twice in the second set, including when serving for the match, but admitted he was happy to “suffer” because he was still learning to adjust to competing on the clay again.

“Well, with everything in consideration [it has] been a great match,” he confessed after the 6-1 7-6(4) victory. “I played a fantastic first set and the second was not bad. I just played a little bit up and down, having some good moments, some mistakes. Something that is completely normal after a while without playing so very pleased, very happy with the victory.”

Although he was pleased with his performance, the man dubbed the ‘King of Clay’ admitted that, while things may appear to come naturally to him, he is still “learning” to play again after six weeks away from competition and 11 months since his last match on the dirt. “It’s about learning a bit everything again,” he said.

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