Game Game

Nadal returns in style, Djokovic through


NADAL-CHINABEIJING, September 30- World number one men’s player Novak Djokovic powered through his opening game of the $5.4 million China Open Tuesday following a shaky start, while five-times Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova also won.

The men’s third seed in Beijing, Tomas Berdych, joins Djokovic in the second round after winning his game, but it was heartbreak for women’s world number six Agnieszka Radwanska, who became the highest seed to tumble so far.

Djokovic made an emphatic start to a tournament he has a 100 percent record in, defeating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-2, 6-1 in just 63 minutes.

But the Serb took a while to get into his stride, trading a series of serves with his opponent early on before regaining his composure and sealing the set.

The reigning China Open champion will face Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the next round as he bids for his fifth title in Beijing, a tournament he has won every year since 2009, apart from 2011 when he did not take part.
Meanwhile world number six Berdych eased past Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 6-2.

Berdych, a former winner in Beijing in 2011, is chasing points as he pushes to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in November.

He is currently in eighth position in the race for the London tournament and must at least remain in that position if he is to make the season finale of the top eight players.

Only five berths are available as the world’s top three players — Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer — have already confirmed their place for London.

Spaniard Nadal plays his match in Beijing later Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the men’s competition, eighth seed American John Isner beat Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-1, 6-3.

In the women’s tournament, Sharapova was facing a potential banana skin in her match with Elina Svitolina. Her Ukrainian opponent was full of confidence following her appearance in the Wuhan Open semi-finals last week.

The pair matched each other early in the game before Sharapova broke her opponent in the fourth game, and then appeared to take command of the set at 5-1.

The Russian world number four made it more difficult for herself by allowing Svitolina to break back before she finally clinched the set.

Sharapova traded breaks with the 33rd-ranked player midway through the second set, before she powered through with a 6-2, 6-2 scoreline. 

The French Open champion will play her third-round match against either 14th seed Italian Flavia Pennetta or Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.

Fifth seed Radwanska, meanwhile, has now failed to get past the second round in her last two tournaments in China, losing to Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-4, 6-4 in Beijing.

Radwanska was hoping for a deep run at the China Open to seal her place in next month’s WTA Finals, the season-ending finale in Singapore featuring the world’s top eight women players.

The Pole was last week dumped out of the Wuhan Open in the second round by 20-year-old French rising star Caroline Garcia 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7).

But there was no upset for second seed Romanian Simona Halep who defeated home-crowd favourite Zhu Lin 7-5, 6-4.

The China Open is being held at the Olympic Park in the Chinese capital and will reach its climax on October 5.