BEIJING, China -- Playing in his first match in three months, No. 2 Rafael Nadal showed no signs that he was out of form, defeating Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of the China Open. A right wrist injury kept Nadal out of the North American hard court season over the summer, but his return in Beijing was emphatic. He needed just 77 minutes to notch his 13th consecutive win over Gasquet. Most importantly, Nadal said his wrist was near 100 percent.
"In general I have to be happy the way that I played, no? Three months without a match, winning against a player who is a good player like Richard, is a very positive comeback for me. More important than win, lose, is spend time on court."
Gasquet put up a challenge in the first set but quickly grew disillusioned and dispirited after going 0 for 3 on break points, as Nadal pounded his trademark forehand to dominate the points. The Spaniard finished with 27 winners to 18 unforced errors, winning 74 percent of his first serve points and 61 percent of his second serve points. His returning was on point as well. Gasquet won just 35 percent of points on his second serve, finishing with 11 winners to 18 unforced errors. Nadal plays German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the second round.
After coming back from injury, Nadal said he's tempered his expectations for the end of the season. "Today I don't aspire to win tournaments here in Asia. I go day by day. I try my best in every practice, in every match, and let's see how far I can go."
He's going to go pretty far if he keeps hitting his forehand like this: