Rafael Nadal edged a titanic struggle with debutant Mardy Fish 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3) at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Sunday night.
Rafael Nadal celebrates after beating Mardy Fish on Sunday. Pic/AFP
There were question marks about both men heading into the tournament, with Nadal having not played since losing to Florian Mayer in Shanghai a month ago while Fish was nursing a hamstring injury.
The World No 2 certainly did not look rusty in a first set he dominated but his opponent settled into the match in the second and could easily have come out on top in a topsy-turvy decider.
The Spaniard next faces great rival Roger Federer, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening Group A match earlier. Nadal said: "It will be a really difficult match for me. He's playing very well and it's a really difficult challenge but this is a fantastic win and I will try my best."