Nadal tested by Pouille in Beijing, Sharapova sets rematch with Halep

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/10/4 14:14:00

Rafael Nadal of Spain serves the ball during the men's singles first round match against Lucas Pouille of France at 2017 China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 3, 2017. Nadal won 2-1. (Xinhua/He Changshan)

World no. 1 Rafael Nadal kicked off his Asian swing with a three-set thriller against Lucas Pouille at the 2017 China Open, rallied to beat the Frenchman 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 in Beijing on Tuesday, while Maria Sharapova set a rematch of US Open against Simona Halep in the women's singles third round.

Men's singles top seed Nadal, who has already secured a berth in London ATP Finals, saved two match points when trailing 6-4 in the tiebreak of the second set, winning four-straight points to pull the match into the decider.

"It was a very tough first round, as I said the other day. He played well, very aggressive. For me was difficult at the beginning, then I started to play better", said the Spaniard.

The 23-year-old Pouille had won their most recent head-to-head meeting and their only prior match-up on hard courts, outlasting Nadal in a fifth-set tie-break during the fourth round of the 2016 US Open.

"He had two match points, one of them with an easy forehand more or less, but it's like this," Nadal said, "I remember the match against him in the US Open that I had 6-All in the tiebreak, an easy forehand I missed to the net too. That time was for him, today was for me."

The Frenchman, ranked 23rd in the world, produced one of his best defences of the season in Beijing, forcing the top seed to wait until the 11th game of the decider to get his first and only break of the match. But the more experienced Nadal performed better when the chances came, holding his serve in the 12th game to seal the match.

It was also Nadal's first ATP Tour victory after he lifted the trophy at Flushing Meadows, where he beat Kevin Anderson in three straight sets to notch his third US Open and 16th Grand Slam title.

Nadal will face against Karen Khachanov, who ousted home player Wu Di 6-4, 6-2, in the second round.

Following Nadal appeared in the central court was home favorite Zhang Shuai, who was defeated by no. 11 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 7-5 in the women's singles second round.

Early in the day, wildcard Maria Sharapova outlasted fellow Russian Katerina Makarova 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to advance to the third round.

"Look, again, a few ups and downs. She definitely picked it up in the second. But I felt like although she won the second set, I was really motivated to start the third. I was questioning how I would fell physically, but I felt really good going into the third set," said the 2014 China Open winner after the match.

Sharapova had won all the previous seven matches against Makarova, six of those came in straight sets, and the most recent one was in her first event after 15-month suspension at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart

Awaiting Sharapova in the last 16 is no. 2 seed Simona Halep, who easily went through the second round as her rival Magdalena Rybarikova retired when trailing 6-1, 2-1 behind.

"You can take a little bit away from all the matches we've played in the past," Sharapova said about her next round match against Halep, a redo of the US Open first round, "We know each other's games very well. They've always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional." Sharapova now holds a perfect 7-0 record against the world no. 2.

No.12 seed Petra Kvitova knocked out qualifier Varvara Lepchenko 6-4, 6-4. The Czech goes on to meet 5th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in tomorrow's round three action.

Posted in: TENNIS

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