Nadal saved a set point in the first-set tie-break and fought back from a break down in the second set, before closing out the match in one hour, 44 minutes.
“Very happy to start the season with a title … and from where we are coming, it’s very special,” said Nadal. “Tonight I think I played my best match so far since I arrived here, without a doubt, against a very difficult player.”
“If we put everything together and analyze all the things that I went through the last five months, including the Covid after Abu Dhabi, of course I am happy,” he added.
“Of course there have been still doubts, but even more doubts during a lot of months, if I will be able to be back.”
But Nadal insisted there was still much to be done as he looks to regain match sharpness and add to his tally of 20 majors, a record he currently shares with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
“Well, exactly where I would like to be is being 100 percent healthy … playing until the end of the season and without coming back after five, six months outside of the competition … I have a lot of things to keep improving … and I’m going to try hard.”