Defending champion Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made winning returns at the Italian Open on Wednesday with the top two men’s seeds easing into the third round of the clay-court tournament in Rome.
Nine-time winner Nadal swept aside fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1, 6-1 in his first match in over six months, played behind closed doors at the Foro Italico.
The world No 2 has not played since winning in Acapulco at the end of February, opting to skip the US hard court tour amid coronavirus concerns.
“It was a good feeling going out there,” said 34-year-old Nadal.
“Not beautiful, the feeling playing without the spectators, because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe.
“But for me, at least, today was a very positive comeback.
“I played a very solid match and very serious and doing a lot of things very well, so very happy.”
Nadal is building towards his bid for a 13th French Open title, although he stressed: “I never take Rome like preparation for nothing else.”
Earlier, Djokovic eased past Italian wild card entry Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-2 after his unbeaten record this season was ended with a US Open last 16 default for accidently striking a line judge with a ball hit in frustration.
“I didn’t feel that I had any mental or emotional blockages or any dramas playing a match today,” said the world No 1.
He next plays 29th-ranked fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic for a place in the quarterfinals.
Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas fell to Italian teenager Jannik Sinner 6-1, 6-7 (9/11), 6-2, with sixth seeded Belgian David Goffin also exiting 6-2, 6-2 to Croatia’s Marin Cilic.