Rafael Nadal’s bid to regain the world number one ranking got off to a fine start with a routine 6-2 6-4 win over Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo in the first round of the China Open in Beijing.
The Spaniard will usurp Novak Djokovic as the world’s top player if he reaches the final in the Chinese capital, irrespective of the performance of Djokovic, who took 54 minutes to beat Czech Lukas Rosol 6-0 6-3.
Fourth seed Tomas Berdych breezed past Spain’s Pablo Andujar but eighth seed John Isner was pushed all the way by Chinese world number 243 Di Wu before coming through 5-7 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 in just under two hours.
Sixth seed Stanislas Wawrinka came from behind to beat Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-3 6-4 and Richard Gasquet overcame Florian Mayer 6-3 7-6 (7/2) while there were also wins for Nikolay Davydenko, Sam Querrey and Fernando Verdasco.
In the women’s second round, Serena Williams struggled to dispatch former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, saving six break points en route to a gruelling 6-4 7-5 win.
Sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki eased past Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-3 6-1 and other women’s seeds to progress were Sloane Stephens, Roberta Vinci, Petra Kvitova, Sabine Lisicki and Carla Suarez Navarro.