Beijing - World number one Rafael Nadal saved two match points to survive the first round of the China Open, just about seeing off France's Lucas Pouille in three sets on Tuesday.
Pouille broke Nadal on the way to taking the first set 6-4, and the world number 23 came within a whisker of sealing a shock when the second set went to a tie break.
But Nadal, with the Beijing crowd backing him, held his nerve when twice staring defeat in the face, and then fought back to win the tie break 8-6.
The duo headed into a final-set shootout and again Pouille refused to buckle, Nadal getting the break of serve in the 11th game before serving for the set and match 7-5.
Nadal's fellow Spaniard and women's world number one Garbine Muguruza exited the tournament in the first round on Monday when she retired from her match with a virus.
Results from the WTA/ATP China Open in Beijing on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Barbora Strycova (CZE) bt Julia Goerges (GER) 6-4, 6-2
Daria Gavrilova (AUS) bt Coco Vandeweghe (USA x14) 6-3, 2-0 retired
Petra Kvitova (CZE x12) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-4, 6-4
Elena Vesnina (RUS) bt Duan Yingying Duan (CHN) 6-3, 6-2
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) bt Christina McHale (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-0
Karolina Pliskova (CZE x4) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-4, 6-4
Darya Kasatkina (RUS) bt Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6-4, 7-5
Maria Sharapova (RUS) bt Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Simona Halep (ROM x2) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 6-1, 2-1 retired
Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA) 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-5
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) bt Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 6-4
John Isner (USA x6) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2, 6-3
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x3) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4
Nick Kyrgios (AUS x8) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1, 6-2