For the first time since a stunning first-round exit at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, Rafael Nadal took the court. Taking part in the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Nadal was absolutely dominant, as he decimated Jesse Levine by a count of 6-2, 6-0.
Expect Nadal to use his early Rogers Cup success to breed a strong hard-court season.
Nadal has been the most dominant player on the ATP Tour this season, going 43-3 with seven titles won, including the French Open. An early exit at Wimbledon put a temporary pause on his success, but that's hardly a reason to write him off.
Prior to that defeat, Nadal had won 43 of 45 matches and proved he had reclaimed his elite form.
With his straight-sets victory over Levine, Nadal has all but ensured his return to glory. While some will claim that he's a clay-court specialist, he didn't complete the career Grand Slam by accident.
Nadal is elite on every surface, and this performance reaffirms that truth.
A Not-So-Distant 2010
Nadal had won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles entering the 2010 season, easily earning the label of elite but not quite reaching Roger Federer's legendary level. That year, Nadal won both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
Is Rafael Nadal a legitimate contender for the 2013 U.S. Open?
In turn, he became the seventh man to complete the career Grand Slam and the 12th to win three major championships in one season.
That distinction marks Nadal as a threat for every title he competes for until the day he retires. While some will complain that he's only won the Australian and U.S. Open titles once, most dream of achieving that feat.
Nadal has 12 career Grand Slam titles, which ranks third all-time behind Federer and Pete Sampras.
If that's not enough for you, Nadal is one of two men's singles players in tennis history to earn the career Golden Slam. For those unfamiliar, that comes when a player has completed the Grand Slam and also won an Olympic gold medal.
Andre Agassi is the only other male player to achieve that feat, with Steffi Graf and Serena Williams serving as the only two women to succeed in that regard.
It's easy to wonder why Nadal has struggled in recent years, especially after establishing his dominance by winning the career Grand Slam at the age of 24. The answer to that question is rather simple, as Nadal has battled multiple injuries.
When healthy, however, he's purely dominant.
Nadal isn't winning matches in 2013—he's dominating virtually every opponent that he comes across. With a win percentage of .935, it's clear that it is not just hyperbole, but a statistical fact, that he's been close to unbeatable.
A fluke loss at Wimbledon doesn't change that.
The southpaw next faces Jerzy Janowicz, who made it to the semifinals of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. If he's able to defeat the 6'8" powerhouse, the belief that Nadal is back in form will be justified.
It's all about finding his form at this time of the year, and Nadal made a major step in the right direction with his 6-2, 6-0 win over Levine.