The Rafa Nadal returns a ball to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, during the first round match of the tournament in Hamburg. | Efe

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal overcame a sluggish start to beat Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the Hamburg Open yesterday. Nadal was playing his firstmatch since losing to Dustin Brown in the second round of Wimbledon.

The former No. 1 in the world has fallen to No. 10. In the all-Spanish match, Nadal appeared to have trouble adjusting to clay and finding his timing. But his game picked up noticeably in the last two sets.

Verdasco saved one match point but then hit the net with a backhand to hand Nadal the win.The match was played under cover because of rain. Third-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut, fourthseeded Andreas Seppi and sixth-seeded Juan Monaco all advanced into the second round