‘Very happy’ Nadal survives Beijing scare

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BEIJING – World primary Rafael Nadal saved two match factors to keep away from a shock defeat within the first spherical of the China Open, seeing off Lucas Pouille in three units on Tuesday.

The Frenchman broke Nadal on the way in which to taking the primary set 6-Four and the world quantity 23 got here inside a whisker of sealing an upset when the second set went to a tie break. However Nadal, 31, with the Beijing crowd backing him on the out of doors exhausting court docket, held his nerve when twice staring defeat within the face and fought again to win the tie break Eight-6.

The pair headed right into a final-set shootout and once more Pouille refused to buckle, Nadal getting the important break of serve within the 11th sport earlier than serving for the set and match 7-5.

Nadal, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, tumbled and misplaced a shoe at one level, and mentioned afterwards he was lucky to be within the second spherical, the place he performs Russia’s promising Karen Khachanov. “He performed effectively, I feel, very aggressive. He is serving effectively,” mentioned Nadal, who misplaced to Pouille the final time they met, eventually 12 months’s US Open. “For me it was somewhat bit troublesome at the start, then I began to play higher. However nonetheless, I did not have the management of the match for nearly on a regular basis. I’m very, very completely happy to be by.”

Nadal narrowly averted the destiny of fellow Spaniard and top-ranked Garbine Muguruza, who exited within the first spherical on Monday when she retired from her match with a virus. Additionally into the second spherical is the second seed Alexander Zverev, who noticed off Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-Three, 7-6 (7/Three). Nick Kyrgios, Juan Martin del Potro, the American John Isner and third seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria additionally all went by.

SHARAPOVA PRIMED FOR HALEP: Maria Sharapova mentioned her third-round conflict with world quantity two Simona Halep on Wednesday would assist her gauge her progress since coming back from a 15-month doping ban.

The Russian former primary, on the comeback path since April following the ban for taking the banned substance meldonium, needed to dig deep as she defeated compatriot Ekaterina Makarova in three units.

Sharapova, 104 on the planet and on a wildcard on the China Open, has but to win a match since returning to tennis. The five-time Grand Slam champion mentioned she had endured “a couple of ups and downs” in seeing off Makarova 6-Four, Four-6, 6-1. However the 30-year-old is relishing her showdown with the Romanian Halep: “We all know one another’s video games very effectively, that is no secret. They’ve at all times been very difficult, robust, aggressive, emotional.”

Sharapova, a crowd favorite in Beijing, added: “However I really like the problem of taking part in towards somebody that is quantity two on the planet.  “She’s an awesome participant, she’s had an awesome 12 months. Any time you are in a position to face an opponent that is completed one thing proper and effectively, it is nice to see the place you’re and the place your degree is.”

The Halep assembly will likely be a replay of the first-round match between the pair on the US Open in August, when Sharapova made a powerful return to Grand Slam competitors earlier than exiting within the fourth spherical.

Sharapova boasts a 7-Zero file towards Halep, who made it into the subsequent spherical after Magdalena Rybarikova retired in poor health within the second set. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion in Beijing, needed to beat off the spirited problem of dwelling hope Zhang Shuai, 7-5, 7-5.  Karolina Pliskova, the fourth seed from the Czech Republic, booked her spot in spherical three with a 6-Four, 6-Four victory over Andrea Petkovic of Germany.

 

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