Beijing - Rafael
Nadal barrelled through his opening match of the China Open Tuesday as
he seeks to redeem his injury-blighted season with a strong run in
Nadal dropped just two games to 39th-ranked Italian Paolo Lorenzi, beating him 6-1, 6-1 to reach the round of 16.
Top seed Andy Murray booked his place in the second round with a 6-2,
7-5 win over Andreas Seppi who failed to capitalise on a late surge as
he double faulted twice in the final game.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Nadal is approaching the end of his
second consecutive season without a Slam title since he won his first
aged 19 at Roland Garros in 2005.
He has repeatedly fended off questions about his future in the sport
since he was forced out of the French Open third round with a wrist
injury that also saw him miss Wimbledon.
"When you get injury for two months and a half in the middle of the
season (it) is tough," Nadal said after his first round match in
"(There) remains a little bit to finish the season. Today is an
important victory. There are points to try (and win) to qualify for the
World Tour Finals," he added.
Nadal is currently eighth on the leaderboard for the London ATP
Finals - which features the year's top eight players - and needs to
pick up some points in Beijing to ensure his qualification.
Until the wrist injury
forced him off the court, Nadal had showed signs of a renaissance this
year after his worst season as a professional in 2015 saw him plummet to
his lowest ranking in a decade.
But he has failed to get past the fourth round of any of the Grand
Slams this year and just missed out on a bronze medal at the Rio
Murray is also targeting a strong Beijing run, which could put him in
striking distance of dethroning world number one Novak Djokovic.
The Scot added a second Wimbledon title and Olympic gold medal to his
collection, and also reached the final of the Australian and French
Opens this season.
But September was a month of disappointments as he was ousted in the
quarter finals of the US Open by Japan's Kei Nishikori and missed out to
a second consecutive Davis Cup win, losing to Argentina.
"What I needed after that stretch was a break. I needed some time
away from the court to rest and recover, freshen up a bit, hopefully
have a strong finish to the year," Murray told reporters in Beijing.
Meanwhile on the women's side, double Wimbledon champion Petra
Kvitova - fresh from her victory at the Wuhan Open last week - showed
little mercy for home hope Wang Yafan beating her 6-4, 6-1 to reach the
round of 16.
As the evening drew in, play finally got underway on the outer
courts, which got a heavy watering as rain enveloped the Chinese capital
for most of the day.
Results from the ATP/WTA China Open in Beijing on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Andy Murray (GBR x1) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-2, 7-5
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-1, 6-1
Petra Kvitova (CZE x14) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 6-4, 6-1