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Nadal survives a scare
Making his first appearance since last month’s US Open win, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal saved two match points as he came from a set down to beat Lucas Pouille of France in the first round of the China Open.
The Spaniard found himself 4-6 down in the second set tie-break before winning four points on the bounce. Nadal, 31, then converted his first and only break point in the final set to win 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-5.
The reigning US Open champions admitted to been a bit ring rusty but praised the work of this opponent. “I am very, very happy to be through,” said Nadal.
“He played well, I think, very aggressive. He’s serving well. For me it was a little bit difficult at the beginning, then I started to play better. “But still, I didn’t have the control of the match for almost all the time”.
In other first round results, there were wins for Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, American John Isner and for Czech native, Tomas Berdych.
British number one out of Hong Kong Open
British No. 1 Johanna Konta has pulled out of next week’s Hong Kong Open due to a foot injury, but remains hopefully of a return to action at next week’s Moscow Open.
The 26-year-old currently holds the eighth and final qualifying position for this month’s season-ending WTA Finals, so an immediate return to action is essential for the British player.
She has not enjoyed a good time of late as she continued her winless run that will now extend to at least eight weeks after She was beaten by Romania’s world number 65 Niculescu in her opening match in Beijing last Sunday.
Maria Sharapova beats Ekaterina Makarova in three sets
The five-time Grand Slam champion, ranked 104th in the world, beat fellow Russian and world number 33 Makarova 6-4 4-6 6-1.
Returning to the fold since her lengthy drugs ban concluded entered as a wildcard and will now play Romanian world two Simona Halep, who was leading 6-2 2-1 when Slovak opponent Magdalena Rybarikova retired through injury. This matches for a very interesting match-up.
After gaining access to the US Open by means of a wildcard, Sharapova beat Halep in three sets to cap a dramatic comeback and to announce herself back on the world stage. Sharapova, who has never lost to Halep in seven previous meetings, is relishing another battle with her fierce rival.
“We know each other’s games very well, that’s no secret. They’ve always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional”.
Sharapova, who is adored by her fans in Beijing, added: “But I love the challenge of playing against someone that’s number two in the world. She’s a great player, she’s had a great year”.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova hammered American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko in a battle of left-handers with the Czech native winning 88 percent of points on serve to progress to the third round with a routine straight sets victory.
Kvitova faces fifth seed and former world No. 1 Carolina Wozniacki next, in what promises to be another epic encounter which will pro-long their eight-year rivalry. Number 12 seed Kvitova holds a slender 6-5 lead in her head-to-head record with Wozniacki, however she has had the better record in recent times as she came out on top in their last two matches in straight sets.
British tennis player banned for one year for positive cocaine test
Dan Evans, the British number four provided the positive sample at the Barcelona Open on the 24th April and his suspension is back-dated to begin from that date.
Evans, 27, will be free to return to the courts from 24 April 2018.
A statement from the International Tennis Federation read: “A sample was found to contain cocaine and its metabolite.” A statement from the ITF said: “On 16 June 2017, Mr. Evans was charged with an anti-doping rule violation under article 2.1 of the program (presence of a prohibited substance in a player’s sample), and was provisionally suspended with effect from 26 June 2017. Mr. Evans admitted his violation.
Evans, from Solihull, was quoted in June saying: “I made a mistake and I must face up to it”.