LONDON -- Top-ranked Rafael Nadal made a winning return at the ATP World Tour Finals as he breezed past fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2 in his first round-robin match on Tuesday.
Playing for the first time in two years at the season-ending tournament, Nadal traded breaks early but then became untouchable on serve, dictating the play from the baseline and forcing third-ranked Ferrer into a stack of errors. Nadal converted six of seven break points.
He claimed his 21st win in 26 matches against Ferrer -- but only his first indoors -- and avenged his loss in their Paris Masters semifinal last week.
"He played a lot better than me in Paris but today I played a little bit better than him and it's important for my confidence to start with a victory after Paris," Nadal said "There is no rest but the energy of this stadium is fantastic."
Nadal and Ferrer play in Group A, alongside Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Tomas Berdych in his opening match on Monday. No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, playing late Tuesday, are in Group B with Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet.
Nadal is bidding to win the elite event for the first time. He will be guaranteed of the year-end No. 1 spot if he wins a second match at O2 Arena.
He broke Ferrer in the first game with a forehand winner down the line but Ferrer broke back immediately, and spectators braced themselves for a hard-fought contest.
But Nadal, who did not play last year because of his bad knee, then dropped only one point on his next three service games while Ferrer gave easy points and struggled to keep the ball in the court.
Nadal broke again for 3-2 and earned three set points with a brilliant forehand passing shot down the line before sealing the set when Ferrer made another unforced error to drop his serve at love.
Nadal then built a 5-0 lead but Ferrer refused to surrender easily, and mounted a comeback playing more aggressively and taking chances at the net. He broke Nadal before dropping his serve after sending a backhand wide and burying a forehand in the net.