Nadal wins on return, Djokovic stays perfect in Beijing

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2014 6:24 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal enjoyed an emphatic return to singles action as he powered past Richard Gasquet at the China Open on Tuesday, while world number one Novak Djokovic overcame a sluggish start to continue his perfect run in Beijing.

Spanish world number two Nadal, playing his first singles match in three months following a wrist injury, extended his record to 13-0 against the Frenchman with a brisk 6-4 6-0 win after Djokovic had beaten Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2 6-1.

An early break for Nadal in the third game put him on course for the first set but only after the left hander saved a break point with an ace when trying to serve it out.

A dejected Gasquet was then broken in the opening game of the second set as Nadal's confidence soared, the Spaniard pummeling some trademark forehand winners as he wrapped up the first round win with a 27th fizzing winner.

Nadal's last match before Beijing was a last 16 defeat to Australian Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon.

He made a low key doubles return on Monday when he teamed up with compatriot Pablo Andujar but the Spanish duo were defeated by Czech Tomas Berdych and American John Isner.

Nadal will face German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the second round after the world number 122 defeated big serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4 2-6 7-5.

Djokovic had less time away than Nadal but showed more rust in his first appearance on the ATP Tour since losing to Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open earlier this month.

The world number one traded five breaks of serve in the opening six games against Garcia-Lopez before Djokovic took a grasp of the match by holding for only the second time to lead 5-2.

BERDYCH CRUISES

He then broke Garcia-Lopez for a fourth time to seal the set with the Spaniard his own worst enemy, landing only 38 percent of his first serves.

The Serb looked more assured in the second set as he dropped just 14 points to take it 6-1 and make it a perfect 20 wins and no losses on Beijing's blue courts as he bids for a fifth title here.

Third seed Berdych also dropped just three games in a first round win as the Czech downed tall Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-2.

Berdych won the ATP 500 event in 2011, when Djokovic didn't enter, and needs a similarly strong week to book a spot at the season ending ATP World Tour finals in London.

The Czech currently holds the eighth and final qualifying position for the prestigious November tournament, but many of his challengers for a berth are competing in Beijing or Tokyo this week.

One of those is Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who faced a tough encounter with Spain's Fernando Versaco in Monday's night session before prevailing 6-1 3-6 6-3.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)