Rafael Nadal returned to action with a hear fought win as he saw off Mardy Fish in an epic battle at the O2.
Nadal is looking to go one step further that he did twelve months ago, where he was runner up to Roger Federer, but the Spaniard has not played for over a month.
He returned to the O2 with rousing reception and looked to be fully in control of the opening set as he looked like he had never been away as he took it 6-2.
There were some question marks over Fish's fitness coming into the competition after he picked up a groin injury at the Paris Masters just over a week ago.
But at the beginning of the second set he got his nerves under control as he hit back breaking Rafa early to take control of the set.
Nadal could never get back on level terms as Fish did what Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had done against Roger Federer earlier in the day as hr hit back taking the set 6-3.
But, as we have come to expect. Nadal's response was immediate as he broke Fish in his opening service game of the set to open up a 2-0.
But the Spaniard had to quickly leave the court for a bathroom break and this had a negative impact on his rhythm as he lost three games on the bounce to trail 2-3.
However Fish was unable to consolidate this break as Nadal hit back to love to level at 3-3, however the Spaniard did look incredibly ill.
Nadal had break points in the tenth game as Fish served to stay in the match at 4-5 but he was unable to convert.
A tie break was required to decide the winner and it was Nadal who, looking much better, picked up the pace.
He dropped just three points in that breaker to win 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7-3) and his campaign for a first ATP World Tour Final title underway.
Speaking to the ATP after the match Nadal said: "It was a very important victory for me, for my confidence, to start the tournament with positive feelings.
"I think I played a very good first set after the break from the beginning. The second was hard. I made a big mistake at 0-1, 40/15 for me in the beginning of the second.
"That [gave him] a lot of confidence and after that, all the match was close. The third set was a little bit more crazy, up and down. I was seriously really lucky for the victory, and I for sure am very happy."
Nadal's next match has the potential to be the clash of the tournament as he is set to face old rival Roger Federer.
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw