He also reached the final in 2013.
Also in Nadal’s half of the draw, which was released on Saturday, are second-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, who will square off against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in the first round. However, poor air quality is nothing new in the Chinese capital. He has dropped only three sets out of 51 in his five appearances.
The 14-time grand slam victor, considered to be the best clay court player had nothing to show on the red surface either. He had another two break in the sixth and eighth game and finally claimed the victory with another 6-3.
He has just hit 167 weeks as No1 and so will overtake the current all-time No5 John McEnroe’s total of 170 next month-and that’s not all.
The Spaniard is helped by the fact that both Roger Federer and Andy Murray are not playing this event.
Everyone on this planet who loves tennis and Rafael Nadal knows about Rafael Nadal’s long lasting mentor, his uncle Toni. This year, for example, he beat Berdych in St Petersburg, Kevin Anderson in Madrid, Raonic in Marseille, David Goffin in Sydney. Not a bit of it. Indeed, it will be the first time since he landed his first French Open as a 19-year-old in 2005 that Nadal will go through a season without landing a Grand Slam title.
In the second set, Zhang’s unforced errors started to increase. Istomin is not a stranger for me, we have played each other twice in Davis Cup. “I think I’m closer to that”, Nadal said.
Djokovic has won the tournament the last three years and was rarely in trouble against world number 59 Bolelli this afternoon. One can only imagine what he might achieve this autumn.
Djokovic stands out from the men’s “Big Four” after he subdued Murray in the Australian Open final, Federer at Wimbledon and the US Open, and dethroned Nadal on the clay of Roland Garros.
Nadal has cut a doleful figure for much of the season but the fire was back in his eyes as he described how his mental composure was returning. If the rebound doesn’t happen, then we will definitely make a few changes in his game as well as his support group.