After an extended spell on the sidelines, Rafael Nadal is back on the tennis circuit and will begin his campaign in the opening round of the China Open in Beijing. Awaiting the Spaniard in his opening match is France’s Richard Gasquet, who is yet to beat Nadal on the ATP World Tour in a decade’s worth of attempts. Nadal holds an impenetrable 12-0 record against the Frenchman and will be looking to extend that streak on Tuesday afternoon.
The world No. 2 has not taken part in a single match since his fourth round loss to Nick Kyrgios at the Wimbledon Championships. He sacrificed 6000 ranking points when he withdrew from title defenses in Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open.
He has since made a successful comeback from the sidelines last Thursday afternoon when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets during an exhibition match in Kazakhstan. Playing in front of a full crown in Astana, the world No. 2 came from a set down to beat Tsonga 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4 in a match that featured the laughter and trickery characteristic of exhibition matches.
Gasquet followed up on his third round US Open showing with a win over Tomas Berdych at Roland Garros to give the French team a crucial lead in the Davis Cup semi-final. Once he helped secure their place in the final, the Frenchman kicked off his Asian Swing campaign with a second round showing in Shenzhen, where he lost to Juan Monaco.
Nadal is taking part in a draw that features two more of the Big Four competitors in Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. While Gasquet is a surprisingly stern opening round match-up for the Spaniard, he should dispatch his opponent eventually to advance his record to a superstitious 13-0.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets