Watch List: Rafael Nadal returns to action at the China Open
BEIJING, China — Rafael Nadal returns to competition this week at the China Open, an ATP 500 event. Nadal had been off the tour with a right wrist injury since losing to Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon in June, but he tested his form last week in an exhibition match. Seeded No. 2, Nadal has drawn No. 21 Richard Gasquet in the first round.
“I am much better," Nadal told reporters in Beijing. "The thing is the injury, the evolution of the injury, was a bit slow and took a little bit of time. But that's it. I just feel the wrist a little bit when I am starting, when I start to play every day, but then it disappears. I'm in good conditions to compete again.”
The 32-man draw is packed this year, with four-time champion Novak Djokovic aiming to extend his 19-0 record in Beijing as the top seed. Andy Murray, fresh off winning his first title in 15 months at the Shenzhen Open, is the No. 6 seed and has been drawn into Djokovic's half, along with Grigor Dimitrov and U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic. John Isner, seeded eighth, is in Nadal's half and plays Santiago Giraldo in the first round.
On the women's side, the Premier Mandatory event is already underway, with main draw play kicking off on Saturday. Serena Williams is the top seed and she'll try to rebound after retiring from her first match last week at the Wuhan Open due to a viral illness. She opens against Silvia Soler-Espinosa and could face Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, in what would be their fourth meeting in two months. Also drawn in Serena's half are Wuhan Open champion Petra Kvitova and sister Venus, who could meet in a rematch of their Wimbledon epic in the third round. Venus has already won her first round match, beating Heather Watson 6-3, 6-1 over the weekend.
The bottom half of the draw is headlined by No. 2 Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Wuhan Open finalist Eugenie Bouchard. Halep, Sharapova and Ivanovic all lost early in Wuhan and they'll be looking to fine-tune their games with the WTA Finals looming. Sharapova has one match in the books, beating Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday. Ivanovic has a potentially tricky first round match against Belinda Bencic.
Stan Wawrinka tops the draw in Tokyo, with David Ferrer, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori rounding out the top four seeds. Nishikori followed up his run to the U.S. Open final by winning his third title of the year last week at the Malaysian Open and his Tokyo homecoming should be something to see. Also back in action is No. 23 Alexandr Dolgopolov, who has been sidelined since mid-July after undergoing knee surgery. He plays Jack Sock in the first round.