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Tennis: Winning return for Rafael Nadal, but back injury still persists

Published on Feb 21, 2014 5:17 PM
 
Rafael Nadal (right) of Spain shakes hands with Albert Montanes of Spain after the 2014 Rio Open men's singles tennis match in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday, Feb 20, 2014. Tennis world No. 1 Rafael Nadal breezed into the quarter-finals of the ATP Rio Open on Thursday, but admitted afterwards that he was still feeling the effects of a back injury. -- PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Tennis world No. 1 Rafael Nadal breezed into the quarter-finals of the ATP Rio Open on Thursday, but admitted afterwards that he was still feeling the effects of a back injury.

Nadal, in his first event since losing last month's Australian Open final, needed only 74 minutes to rout Spanish compatriot Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-2 and book a date against Portugal's 48th-ranked Joao Sousa, who eliminated 87th-rated Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 6-3.

Nadal wore elastic tape across his lower back during the match and said the injury he suffered in losing the championship match at Melbourne to Stanislas Wawrinka still nags him.

"When you get injured in the final of a Grand Slam and stop for two-and-a-half weeks, it is not easy to come back," he said. "The back is still bothering me a little bit but I am happy with my decision to be here."

 
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