Rafael Nadal enjoyed a winning start at the Barcelona Open as he returned from another long-term injury in what could be his final year before retirement.

The Spanish 22-time major champion, who turns 38 in June, won 6-2 6-3 against inexperienced Italian Flavio Cobolli in their first-round match on Tuesday.

Now ranked 644th, Nadal was playing for the first time since January because of a hip injury and abdominal issues.

Nadal has indicated that 2024 is likely to be his last as a professional player.

After pulling out of last year’s French Open with a hip problem, the former world number one said he planned to retire at the end of this season.

Nadal, who is considered as one of the best players in history and greatest clay-courter of all time, has only played one event since.

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But, before making his latest comeback in Barcelona, Nadal said he was not “putting a deadline” on his retirement and would only keep playing as long as he felt it was “worth it”.

This win was a positive step, if a somewhat straightforward assignment, as the record 14-time champion aims to return to Roland Garros next month.

In another game, British men’s number one Cameron Norrie booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open with an impressive straight-sets win over home favourite Roberto Bautista Agut.

Norrie secured a 6-4 6-3 victory, the 200th of his career on tour, in one hour and 24 minutes and will now face either Tomas Etcheverry or Brandon Nakashima in the last eight.

Norrie gained an early break in each set but was twice immediately broken back to love, but the left-hander’s greater variety of shots and willingness to come to the net – where he won 11 of 13 points – ultimately proved critical.

With the French Open taking place from May 26, Norrie is eyeing a run to the final in Barcelona and lifting the trophy as he steps up his preparations for the second Grand Slam of the year.