Nadal dominates in return to tennis at China Open tourney

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot from Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain during the China Open tennis tournament at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)


By Justin Bergman ,AP

BEIJING — Rafael Nadal made a dominant return to tennis after a two-month injury layoff, beating Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-0 at the China Open on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray also advanced to the second round in vastly different fashion.

The top-ranked Djokovic improved to 20-0 at the China Open with a routine 6-2, 6-1 win over Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, while Murray took 2 1/2 hours to put away Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal injured his right wrist while practicing on his home island of Majorca in late July, missing the entire North American hard-court season, including the defense of his title at the U.S. Open.

He hadn’t played a match since his surprising fourth-round exit at Wimbledon to Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios, but the 14-time major winner never looked in trouble against Gasquet, a semifinalist at the 2013 U.S. Open who has slumped to 22nd in the rankings.

The second-seeded Spaniard looked energetic from the start, repeatedly running around his backhand to hit winners with his looping forehand, and showed good timing at the net. He saved all three break points he faced to improve his record against Gasquet to 13-0.

As impressive as he looked in his return, however, Nadal said it will be difficult to perform well against loaded fields in Beijing and next week at the Shanghai Masters.

“I am less favored this year than other years,” he said. “The draws are very hard. Very difficult players. Every single round is so tough. Every victory is very important for me.”

“Today, I don’t aspire to win tournaments here in Asia. I go day by day.”

Djokovic has proved difficult to beat in Beijing, winning four titles in five years. He typically plays well during the Asian swing after the U.S. Open, a time of year when other players complain about the grind of the tennis season.

The Serb said his focus was no different this time, even with the impending birth of his first child a month from now.