MADRID: Spain’s Rafael Nadal had an easy opening match in what will be his last appearance at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament, defeating American Darwin Blanch 6-1, 6-0, in just 63 minutes, on Thursday.

The 16-year-old looked slightly overwhelmed at the partizan atmosphere in the Manolo Santana centre court in Madrid and Nadal, who has been training all week in the Spanish capital, enjoyed a comfortable workout.

Speaking to Spanish TV after his win, Nadal said he was “trying to enjoy every moment”.

“I’ll train again tomorrow (Friday) and be back here the day after and that is great,“ he added.

Nadal will play Alex de Minaur in the second round after the Australian ended his comeback from injury last week, 7-5, 6-1 in the second round of the Barcelona ‘El Godo’ Open.

“Last week it wasn’t to be and I’m sure this week will be difficult as well. I want to continue improving in everything and I’ll do everything that is in my hands,“ Nadal said.

On Wednesday, Shang Juncheng won a thrilling match 6-7 (9), 6-2, 7-6 (10) against Corentin Moutet, with everything decided in a marathon third-set tiebreak.

Zhang Zhizhen was unable to follow his countryman into the second round as he lost 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets to Miomir Kecmanovic, who gave the world ranked number 49 few options on his serve.

In the women’s round of 64, the top seed Iga Swiatek started her Madrid campaign with a comfortable win over China’s Wang Xiyu, blowing her rival off-court 6-1 in the first set.

Wang fought back in the second, but the Polish star dug in to take the set 6-4 to progress into the round of 32.

Number 9 seed Jelena Ostapenko overcame a few early problems on her serve to beat Jessica Bouzas Maneiro 6-3, 6-1.

Fifth seed Maria Sakkari comfortably defeated Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2, and former winner Victoria Azarenka had a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 triumph against Tatjana Maria.

Naomi Osaka was unable to progress past the second round after losing 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 to 15th seed Liudmila Samsonova, and 16th seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina also went out of the tournament after a 6-3, 7-5 defeat to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo. - Bernama, Xinhua