Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal impressed on his long-awaited return after almost a year out with injury as he beat Dominic Thiem at the Brisbane International.

Nadal, contesting his first singles match in 349 days, won 7-5 6-1.

Spain’s 22-time Grand Slam champion has indicated this season will likely be the last of his illustrious career.

“Today is honestly an emotional and important day for me after probably one of the toughest years of my tennis career,” 37-year-old Nadal said.

“I had the chance to come back after a year and play in front of an amazing crowd and play at a very positive level on the first day, [It] is something that makes us feel proud – my team and family who have been there every day in the last year.”

Wildcard Nadal is using the tournament to prepare for the Australian Open, which starts on 14 January in Melbourne.

He will play Australian Jason Kubler, ranked 102, in the last 16 on Thursday.

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