Rafael Nadal made a stuttering but rousing return to the grass on Tuesday, beating 41st-ranked Francisco Cerundolo 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4 in Wimbledon's first round to begin his campaign for a third Grand Slam title of the year.
The 36-year-old second seed, who has not played at Wimbledon since 2019 and stayed away from warm-up tournaments with a chronic foot problem, looked to be motoring through the match until a series of unforced errors allowed Cerundolo, 23, back in.
The Argentine upped the tempo and used his booming forehand to overpower twice Wimbledon champion Nadal, who has won 20 other Grand Slam titles, taking the third set and breaking serve in the fourth.
But Nadal, who won the Australian Open in January and the French Open earlier this month, regrouped and used all his experience to fight back, breaking a now nervy opponent twice to seal the match to the delight of a packed Centre Court.
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