Nadal saves two MPs to beat Pouille in Beijing, Del Potro also advances

Rafael Nadal survived his first-rounder at the China Open on Tuesday, saving two match points before outlasting Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 after two hours and 31 minutes. Pouille led 6-4 in the second-set tiebreaker but netted an easy forehand on his first chance and missed a good look at a backhand pass on his second match point.

Nadal took the next two points to force a third set and never relinquished his momentum. The top-seeded Spaniard fought off a break point at 2-3 to remain on serve before breaking at love in the 11th game. That allowed Nadal to serve for victory at 6-5, which he did successfully with no trouble–converting his first match point thanks to a well-placed serve at 40-15. The reigning U.S. Open champion won 12 of the last 13 points overall.

It was sweet revenge for Nadal, who lost to Pouille 8-6 in a fifth-set tiebreaker at last year’s U.S. Open.

“(It) was a very tough first round, as I say the other day,” the world No. 1 commented. “He played well, I think; very aggressive. He’s serving well. For me (it) was 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.

“He had two match points, one of them with an easy forehand more or less. But it’s like this. I remember the match against him in the U.S. Open that I had six-all in the tiebreak, an easy forehand I missed at the net, too. That time was for him; today was for me.”


Juan Martin Del Potro joined Nadal in the last 16 by beating Pablo Cuevas 7-6(4), 6-4. The 24th-ranked Argentine crushed 11 aces while double-faulting only once and he saved all three of the break points he faced. Next up for Del Potro is Grigor Dimitrov, who ousted a red-hot Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“I think I’m fresh,” Del Potro noted. “I just came from home, (so) I’m strong to play the tournament. To have Dimitrov in the second round is not easy for me. He’s one of the favorites to win the tournament. It could be a quarterfinal, semifinal, or the final match. But tomorrow I have to be ready for the challenge.”

Among those also advancing in Beijing were Karen Khachanov, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Tomas Berdych, and Andrey Rublev. Khachanov is next up for Nadal on Thursday in a rematch of their recent Wimbledon encounter–won by Nadal in straight sets.

2 Comments on Nadal saves two MPs to beat Pouille in Beijing, Del Potro also advances

  1. As expected every round is a banana skin. Would not be surprised to see Rafa get out anytime or even win it. It can go either way.

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