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Nadal edges closer to world No. 1 spot

ESPN staff
October 1, 2013 « Mourinho needs to be given time - Lampard | Chartbeat test »
Nadal: I will never forget this year


Rafael Nadal got his bid to return to world No. 1 off to the perfect start at the China Open with an opening round win over Santiago Giraldo.

The Spaniard will top the world rankings next Monday if he reaches the final in Beijing - even if current No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who also cruised in to the second round with victory over Lukas Rosol, wins the title.

Serena safely through

Schiavone pushed Williams © AP

Nadal has lost just three matches since returning from a seven-month injury layoff in February, winning 10 titles - including the French and US Opens. And with no ranking points to defend between now and the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena next month, the Spaniard is odds-on to head to the season-finale in top spot.

"It will be very tough," Nadal said. "I hope to have my chance here or in the next few weeks."

The 27-year-old made light work of Giraldo, seeing off the Colombian 6-2 6-4, while Djokovic steamrolled Rosol 6-0 6-3.

Nadal will take on German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round, while Djokovic faces the more difficult task of getting past Fernando Verdasco.

Elsewhere, fifth-seed Richard Gasquet beat Florian Mayer 6-3 7-6(2), while sixth-seed Stanislas Wawrinka overcame Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Australian Marinko Matosevic beat Frenchman Julien Benneteau 7-6(5) 6-3, Sam Querrey overcame Mikhail Youzhny 7-6(3) 6-3, and Nikolay Davydenko saw off Yen-Hsun Lu 7-6(3) 6-4.

Djokovic made light work of first-round opponent Rosol © Getty Images
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