Less than a week since his official return from an extended spell on the sidelines, Rafael Nadal is already through to the quarter-final round at the China Open, where he will be matched up against Slovakia’s Martin Klizan. The Spaniard leads the head-to-head series 2-0, including a victory in the opening round of the Wimbledon Championships this season.
For someone who spent 13 weeks on the sidelines recovering from a wrist injury, Rafael Nadal has been in complete control of his matches to date in Beijing. Following a scintillating start against Richard Gasquet, Nadal followed up with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Peter Gojowczyk. The Spaniard won 85% of his first serve points to close out the match in 1 hour and 45 minutes.
While he has looked impressive so far, Nadal admits that the return has not been as smooth as he would have preferred.
“Coming back in this part of the season is completely different than if I am coming back on clay. I would be able to be in rhythm a little bit faster, a little bit easier… The positive thing is that for another year I’m going to finish in a high position in the ranking, winning a Grand Slam again. I’m going to enjoy the remaining few tournaments. For me this last part of the season obviously is important. Every tournament is important for me. At the same time I want to finish with a better feeling possible to start the new season with good tennis.”
His opponent, Martin Klizan held a 6-2, 3-0 lead over Ernests Gulbis before the Latvian was forced to retire and allow his 56-ranked Klizan through to the quarter-final stage of the tournament.
This is just the third time that Nadal and Klizan cross paths on the circuit, with their previous encounter taking place at the Wimbledon Championships – coincidentally the last tournament Nadal played before Beijing. This is a highly intriguing encounter, as Klizan is an underrated competitor, capable of producing upsets at unexpected moments, while Nadal is in a vulnerable state coming off a writs injury.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets