World number one Rafael Nadal has announced his return to Wimbledon since winning the 2008 title with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over Kei Nishikori of Japan.
Nadal, seeded second, was injured in 2009, managed to break serve twice within the first set and once in the second to put him 2-0 ahead.
The unseeded Japanese Nishikori managed to rally in the third and exchange breaks with the Spaniard, however, the onslaught of the world number one proved too much for him to handle.
"For me it was very special to come back to the nicest centre court in world," Nadal told reporters. "To be here is unbelievable, I worked so hard to come back.
"The crowd here are always amazing so I want to thank them very much, they make me feel like I’m at home all time. It’s amazing to come back.
"It’s a difficult change when you come off the clay and it takes time to adapt to the grass, but I love this surface. It’s not easy for my game but I’ve done well here and I’m going to try my best again this year."
The capacity crowd was eager to welcome back Nadal to the stage which saw him achieve an epic five-set triumph to win the tournament in 2008. There was hints of promise from 20-year old Nishikori, who was made ATP Tour newcomer of the year in 2008, as he began to look more relaxed in the second set. The win continues Nadal’s record of never having lost a match in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament.
Roger Federer is among the favourites to win this year’s Wimbledon with Sky Bet, bet365 and BetFred giving the world number two 6/4 odds of success.