After a lengthy recovery from a right wrist injury, Rafael Nadal makes his long-awaited return to tennis Tuesday in Beijing where the 2013 finalist will face former Top 10 Richard Gasquet.
“The injury I my wrist, as I said before, I cannot say 100% because I still feel something when I start for the first five minutes of the practice,” Nadal said over the weekend. “But in general the injury is not limiting me to compete. The injury is past, I think.”
Nadal hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon almost three months ago. He has never lost to Gasquet winning all 12 meetings against the flashy Frenchmen.
Nadal was in action today losing in doubles with Pablo Andujar to Tomas Berdych and John Isner.
Also at stake these final few months is the No. 1 ranking. Nadal can put pressure on current No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Serb though has won Beijing all four times he’s played. He’ll open tonight against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez seeking a 20th straight win at the event.
“The court itself and the balls and the conditions are pretty suitable to my style of the game,” Djokovic said. “So for the last four, five years I’ve been playing some of my best tennis on the center court.”
On Monday, in his first tournament match as a Grand Slam champion Marin Cilic beat Chinese wildcard Bai 6-3, 6-4.
“It’s important for me to keep focusing on the improvement of my game and try to recreate the game I was playing at the US Open,” said Cilic after his 9th straight win (he’s won 15 of his last 16 sets). “It’s going to be a process for me at all the tournaments to keep my level at the high point where I want it to be.”
Grigor Dimitrov, Vasek Pospisil and Victor Troicki were also winners. The 152nd-ranked Troicki is coming off a doping suspension and after beating David Ferrer last week looks to already be back in form.
The women’s event is also underway. Top seed and World No. 1 Serena Williams overcame an 0-5 first set deficit to deny Silvia Soler-Espinosa of her first career Top 10 win, beating the Spaniard 7-5, 6-2.
“It was really exciting to come away with the win today. I got off to a slow start, but I just really, really wanted to win and get some matches under my belt, so it was good,” Serena said.
Serena also shrugged off any concern about the illness she had last week. “I’m really good now. I mean, every day I’ve been getting better, so I feel so much better now.” The 33-year-old now faces former Wimbledon semifinalist Pironkova on Tuesday.
Also, Ana Ivanovic (d Bencic) and Alize Cornet (d Jankovic) were among the other winners.
In Tokyo, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are in action Tuesday. No. 2 seed David Ferrer was upset earlier today falling to countryman Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“I lost my focus in the second set,” said Ferrer who also lost in his first match last week. “I have not been playing well recently and have got on a bad run of results.”
TUESDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30
WTA – E Svitolina (UKR) vs  M Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP –  N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
ATP – R Gasquet (FRA) vs  R Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 7:45 pm
WTA –  S Williams (USA) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP –  E Gulbis (LAT) vs F Fognini (ITA)
LOTUS COURT start 12:30
ATP – [WC] F Lopez (ESP) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [WC] L Zhu (CHN) vs  S Halep (ROU)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) vs  V Williams (USA)
Not Before 6:30 pm
ATP – J Janowicz (POL) vs  [WC] A Murray (GBR)
TOKYO TUESDAY SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / T Huey (PHI) vs [WC] K Nishikori (JPN) / Y Uchiyama (JPN)
 R Bautista Agut (ESP) vs G Simon (FRA)
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [WC] T Ito (JPN)
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs [Q] M Przysiezny (POL)
B Tomic (AUS) vs  M Raonic (CAN)
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