Miami, March 24 (IANS/EFE) Spanish world No. 1 Rafael Nadal rolled to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, advancing to the third round of the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Centre in Key Biscayne, Florida.
“For me, to be back after two years, it’s a great way to be back,” Nadal said.
Nadal’s match did not start until 10.30 p.m. Saturday due to the long matches played on Stadium Court by Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, as well as a one-hour rain delay.
The Spaniard needed just 68 minutes to beat the 33-year-old Hewitt, a former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam winner.
The 27-year-old Nadal, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, has never won the title in Miami and is trying to regain some of the ranking points he lost as a result of his early loss at Indian Wells.
Nadal now has a 6-4 career record against Hewitt, who he had not faced since the 2010 French Open.
The Spanish star, known for his physically demanding style of play and outstanding defensive skills, has struggled to stay healthy during his career.
Nadal was hampered by a back injury in his loss in the final of this year’s Australian Open to Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka.
“I’m fine, the back is not hurting me. I’ve had two weeks in which I have been able to serve. I am finding my natural way once more, my natural form,” Nadal said.
In other men’s action on Saturday, Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, the No. 18 seed, beat American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4, while Canada’s Milos Raonic, the 12th seed, defeated American Jack Sock 6-4, 7-6 (7-1).
Wawrinka, the No. 3 seed, beat Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, while Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 6-1.
Spain’s Guillermo Garcia Lopez beat France’s Gael Monfils 6-2, 7-5.
On the women’s side, Sharapova, the No. 4 seed, beat the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, while American Serena Williams, the top seed and defending champion, defeated France’s Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.