By Abigail Hinto
(October 1, 2013) BEIJING – It was a straightforward win for Rafael Nadal in his first match back at the China Open on Tuesday, as he beat Santiago Giraldo, although both players saw their form go up and down during the match. With Nadal starting slowly at first with a few errors then by playing conservatively, Giraldo was able to take advantage and get to break point in Nadal’s second service game. But Nadal had his go to reliable pattern of play and a good serve out wide on the ad court which elicited a short return, and with his heavily topspin crosscourt forehand was able to force an error from Giraldo. He held his service game from there and went on to win the next 5 games for a 6-2 first set lead finally playing with more confidence and aggression.
The streak of games continued in the second set when he broke Giraldo right away but then errors started to flow again off Nadal’s racquet and Giraldo was able to get the break back. But again, Nadal was able to recover his form in time to break Giraldo twice and was serving for the match at 5-2. Though Nadal was unable to serve for the match the first time, he finally pulled out a comfortable in 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour and 29 minutes.
Rafael Nadal is pushing to finish the year as world No. 1. Nadal will take over the No. 1 spot if he makes the final in Beijing. But don’t mention that to him anymore after he was already asked about it in his pre-tournament news conference. When a local reporter told him after his match that he could be No. 1 at the end of the tournament Nadal said as he stated earlier; “I am going to think day by day, as I do always. I will see if I have that chance. But it’s something that not worries me today. Only thing that I am focus on is try to keep playing well.”
But there’s another record that has suddenly seemed to be within Nadal’s reach after his US Open win that had people, including Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras talking about, and that’s overtaking Roger Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slam titles and possibly be considered as the greatest of all time. Here’s the Q & A exchange about it:
Q. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi said this week that they believe Roger Federer is the best player of all‑time, but that you will likely overtake him eventually. Can you comment on that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, just can say thank you very much to them for the comments. It’s something difficult to imagine for me. I never thought about that. All my career I went day by day and tournament by tournament, year by year.
Here we were 27 years old and it’s much more than what I ever dreamed. So I’m going to try to keep working hard. If I’m able to do it, I am able to be healthy and to compete well for the next four years, I going to try to create opportunities to keep wining in important tournaments.
If that happens, I will have the chance to keep being in the top. If I am in the top, I will have a chance to win more tournaments. But to overtake Roger is something that nobody beat in I don’t know how many years of history. So going to be a big coincidence if that happens in a period of ten years.
The normal thing is that will not happen. But if that happens or that not happens, only thing I am sure is when I am going to leave this tour, I am going to be very happy about what I did. I tried everything in every practice, in every match. I gave everything.
When you try your best everyday, that’s all that you can do. I think I did. So that’s why I am gonna be happy.
As Rafael Nadal notes, it’s a career already fulfilled. Yet as experts also observe, it’s one with still so much more potential possibly in store. But for now, the rest of the year awaits to see how a successful comeback year for Nadal is capped off, and it starts here at the China Open. Nadal is now 23-0 on hardcourts this year.
Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.
September 28-October 6, 2013
Results – Tuesday, October 1, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (WC) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 64 75
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 60 61
(6) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 63 61
(7) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Laura Robson (GBR) 61 62
(9) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 26 62 60
(10) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. (WC) Zhang Shuai (CHN) 36 63 61
(11) Sloane Stephens (USA) d. (Q) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 61 16 64
(12) Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (Q) Lauren Davis (USA) 64 62
(13) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. (WC) Venus Williams (USA) 61 62
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. Urszula Radwanska (POL) 64 64
WTA Doubles – Second Round
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 64 67(4) 108 (Match TB)
(2) Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) d. Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) 63 64
Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) d. (4) Jankovic/Srebotnik (SRB/SLO) 64 67(4) 106 (Match TB)
(6) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. King/Voskoboeva (USA/KAZ) 63 62
Mladenovic/Pennetta (FRA/ITA) d. Soler-Espinosa/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) 63 61
Hantuchova/Raymond (SVK/USA) d. Lisicki/Medina Garrigues (GER/ESP) 63 64
ATP Singles – Second Round
 T Berdych (CZE) d N Davydenko (RUS) W/O (right wrist)
Singles – First Round
 N Djokovic (SRB) d L Rosol (CZE) 60 63
 R Nadal (ESP) d [Q] S Giraldo (COL) 62 64
 D Ferrer (ESP) d V Pospisil (CAN) 64 36 76(2)
 T Berdych (CZE) d P Andujar (ESP) 64 61
 R Gasquet (FRA) d F Mayer (GER) 63 76(2)
 S Wawrinka (SUI) d A Seppi (ITA) 46 63 64
 J Isner (USA) d [WC] D Wu (CHN) 57 76(4) 63
F Verdasco (ESP) d [Q] S Devvarman (IND) 76(6) 63
S Querrey (USA) d M Youzhny (RUS) 76(3) 63
M Matosevic (AUS) d J Benneteau (FRA) 76(5) 63
N Davydenko (RUS) d [Q] Y Lu (TPE) 76(3) 64
ATP Doubles – First Round
N Djokovic (SRB) / S Wawrinka (SUI) d  M Bhupathi (IND) / R Lindstedt (SWE) 63 63
F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 62 64
C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) / M Youzhny (RUS) 76(8) 46 10-7
T Haas (GER) / F Mayer (GER) d [WC] M Gong (CHN) / Z Li (CHN) 75 36 10-8
SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2013
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
[WC] L Hewitt (AUS) vs F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
[Q] P Hercog (SLO) vs  A Ivanovic (SRB) – WTA
 A Radwanska (POL) vs M Keys (USA) – WTA
Not Before 7:30 PM
 S Lisicki (GER) vs  N Li (CHN) – WTA
P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
LOTUS COURT start 12:30 pm
S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
 J Isner (USA) vs [Q] R Bautista Agut (ESP) – ATP
T Haas (GER) / F Mayer (GER) vs N Djokovic (SRB) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 6:30 PM
 S Errani (ITA) vs  P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA
MOON COURT start 12:30 pm
 J Jankovic (SRB) vs [Q] G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) vs  C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) – WTA
 A Barty (AUS) / C Dellacqua (AUS) vs [PR] Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA
 D Nestor (CAN) / L Paes (IND) vs J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) – ATP – After suitable rest
COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) vs  J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) – ATP
D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs G Dimitrov (BUL) / T Robredo (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) vs F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) – ATP