Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal beat Alexander Zverev to help Spain beat Germany in the Davis Cup quarterfinals Sunday. In this picture, Nadal of Spain celebrates winning his third round match against Zverev of Germany on day six of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Australia, Jan. 21, 2017. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal completed a successful return to tennis after a lengthy injury layoff as he helped Spain progress to the semi-finals of the Davis Cup with victory over Germany in Valencia on Sunday.

The Spaniard was playing for the first time since pulling out during his quarter-final loss against Marin Cilic at the 2018 Australian Open in January and showed no signs of rust as he won both his singles rubbers without dropping a set.

Nadal beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Friday in straight sets in his first match back in over two months before beating Alexander Zverev, who had defeated David Ferrer on Friday during the reverse singles matches Saturday.

Spain were trailing Germany 2-1 after the first three ties having lost one singles and the doubles tie and it was left to Nadal and Ferrer to ensure they progressed to the last four. The ten-time French Open champion started the proceedings on the final day and took the court against the in-form Zverev.

The match was expected to be a difficult one for Nadal to negotiate owing to the fact he was just returning from injury, while Zverev was coming into the tournament on the back of a run to the finals at the Miami Open. The German had also beaten Ferrer in straight sets on the opening day of the quarter-final tie.

Nadal, however, had not read the script and went about asserting his dominance on the German. The Spaniard brought the tie level at 2-2 with a straight sets 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win in what was just his second match since his return from the hip injury he suffered in Melbourne.

Ferrer completed the comeback in the second match of the day as he beat Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-5 in an epic battle to ensure Spain progressed with France awaiting them in the last four.

“The first set was fantastic," Nadal said after his win over Zverev, as quoted on Sport 24. "There were times when I lost a bit of control because the match was tough, I had not competed for a long time and to maintain the level of the first set was complicated for me.”

"But in general it was a very important match and I am very happy,” the Spaniard added.

Nadal’s coach, Carlos Moya, was concerned about the 16-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion’s fitness prior to the start of the Davis Cup tie. He admitted the Spaniard was not 100 percent fit, but was keen for him to get a couple of wins under his belt before he makes his return on the ATP Tour later this month.

The 31-year-old will return to action on the tour at the Monte Carlo Masters, which begins April 14. Nadal is defending 4,860-points on clay this season and the world number one will have to ensure success again in 2018 to remain ahead of Roger Federer, who is just 100-points behind.

The Swiss maestro has opted to skip the entire clay court swing of the season for the second consecutive year and will only return to action at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, in June, but he can go back to the top of the world rankings if Nadal does not defend his titles at the clay court events in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris.