LONDON: French Open champion Rafael Nadal was back in the old routine at Wimbledon as he moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Japan`s Kei Nishikori on Tuesday.
Nadal was in action at the All England Club for the first time since his thrilling victory over Roger Federer in the 2008 final and the Spaniard made up for lost time with a convincing start to his bid to regain the title.
While there will be sterner tests than this ahead for Nadal, it is clear his confidence is sky-high after an imperious run to his fifth French Open crown in Paris earlier this month.
That victory at Roland Garros lifted Nadal above Federer into the number one spot in the world rankings and the 24-year-old has every chance of dethroning his rival at Wimbledon as well.
Federer only narrowly avoided an embarrassing first round exit against unheralded Colombian Alejandro Falla on Monday and the contrast between his spluttering, error-strewn effort and Nadal`s typically belligerent display against Nishikori was striking.
"It`s great to be back at my favourite tournament. The crowd make me feel at home, they are always with me and it is a fantastic feeling," Nadal said.
"I love the grass. I did well in the last few years on this surface and I enjoy playing on this court a lot."
When Nadal suffered an early exit from the pre-Wimbledon warm-up at Queen`s Club, it was suggested he had run out of steam following his heroics on clay.
But a trip home to Mallorca, where Nadal spent time hanging out with his family and playing golf with his friends, eased any aching limbs.
Nadal quickly imposed his will on Nishikori by unleashing some ferocious winners from the back of the court to break in the opening game of the first set.
Statements of intent don`t come much clearer than that and Nadal showed that, while he is by far the world`s best on clay, his grass-court skills are none too shabby either.
The first set was a procession for the three-time Wimbledon finalist and, although Nishikori upped his tempo in the second set, it was no surprise to see the Spaniard earn the decisive break.
Another break for Nadal early in the third set was the final blow as Nishikori finally bowed to the inevitable.
BDST: 2243hrs, June 22, 2010