Djokovic, Nadal kick off race to top ranking with easy wins

Outbreak: Corona virus hits Novak Djokovic's Croatian tournament REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

(Reuters) – World number one Novak Djokovic and the man who can dislodge him from the top spot by next week, Rafa Nadal, kicked off their China Open campaign with straight set victories on Tuesday.

Defending champion Djokovic needed just 54 minutes to crush his Czech opponent Lukas Rosol 6-0 6-3 without hitting a single double fault in a dominant first round display.

The Serb, aiming for his fourth China Open title in five years after missing the 2011 tournament through injury, improved his perfect tournament record to 15-0 after converting four of his eight break points against Rosol.

“I didn’t want to under-estimate my opponent knowing that he had few big wins in his career and he has a big serve,” Djokovic told the ATP website referring to his opponent who had caused one of the biggest upsets in the sport when he beat Nadal at Wimbledon 15 months ago.

“I needed to be very fresh from the start and try to bring that intensity, positive intensity to the court, and that’s what happened.

“I really feel special in China in relation to the fans, because I don’t get to see that often. The fans basically wait for you every single day and night in the hotel,” said Djokovic who takes on Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the second round.

Nadal had to work longer to subdue Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-2 6-4 in 90 minutes at Beijing’s National Tennis Stadium.

The Spaniard, who needs to reach the final in Beijing to reclaim the number one ranking, had no problem bagging the first set but Giraldo put up a stiffer resistance in the second before going down.

Nadal meets Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany next.

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