Nadal makes triumphant return in three-set thriller

Washington (AFP) –


Rafael Nadal made a triumphant return from a two-month injury layoff on Wednesday but needed a third-set tie-breaker to outlast American Jack Sock and advance at the ATP Citi Open.

The 35-year-old Spanish left-hander, a 20-time Grand Slam champion making his Washington debut, dispatched 192nd-ranked Sock 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/1) in a three-hour thriller before about 7,000 spectators at the US Open hardcourt tuneup event.

Top seed Nadal, chasing his 89th career title, will face 50th-ranked Lloyd Harris of South Africa on Thursday for a quarter-final berth.

Third-ranked Nadal had not played since losing to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in June's French Open semi-finals, skipping Wimbledon and the Olympics due to a foot injury.

Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer all enter the US Open with a men's record 20 career Slam titles, with Djokovic trying to complete the first men's calendar-year Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

Nadal improved to 6-0 all-time against Sock by taking their first meeting since 2017.