September 30, 2014
Rafael Nadal made an impressive return to action at the China Open in Beijing by beating the flamboyant Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-0.
It was the ever-popular Spaniard’s first match since Wimbledon, after problems with an injury to his right wrist.
Looking a little heavier but proving as aggressive as ever, Nadal broke early in the first set to take control.
However, he looked vulnerable at times on his own serve, most notably when he faced a break point for Gasquet to level at 5-5. Typically, Nadal came up with an ace and a thumping forehand before closing out the set.
Controversially, Nadal was then pulled up a for second time and penalised with the loss of a first serve for failing to pull the trigger inside 25 seconds.
Even that irritation failed to sidetrack Rafa, who looked determined to send out a message to the likes of the world number one, Novak Djokovic.
The great man is back, the only man Djokovic fears, and that is great for world tennis. Nadal’s warrior instincts are seemingly undiminished, that ruthless streak was as evident as ever. The way he dealt a fading Gasquet the dreaded bagel in the second set was something to behold.
Gasquet had been in excellent form during the Davis Cup and showed some spectacular touches. Yet he didn’t seem to believe he could beat Nadal, even after his opponent’s long period out with injury. The Frenchman’s punishment for a lack of aggression was a thirteenth successive defeat against his nemesis.
Welcome back Rafa, we have missed you.