Rafael Nadal is slowly working his way back into form in Beijing this week. The Spaniard is playing in his first tournament in 13 weeks as he prepares for the ATP World Tour Finals and finds himself in the China Open quarterfinals after a 6-3, 6-4 victory over German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk on Thursday.
“In general, I need to improve. It’s obvious,” said Nadal, who is playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon. “My serve worked well today. But in general I need more rhythm on the lefts, more rhythm on the shots. I am playing okay, trying to not miss a lot, trying to play with not too many risks. That’s what I did today.”
While he is still trying to get his legs under him, the second-seeded Spaniard’s serve was extremely effective Thursday. He converted 85 percent of his first serves into points while not allowing a single break point to move past Gojowczyk.
Nadal will take on Slovakian qualifier Martin Klizan for a spot in the semifinals. Klizan was leading seventh-seeded Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 3-0 before the Latvian retired with a shoulder injury.
Andy Murray is looking to build off of his title win at the Shenzhen Open last week with a strong performance in Beijing, and had no problems getting to the quarterfinals as he rolled past Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-2, 6-2. He notched five break points to pull away and win the straight set match in 80 minutes.
The Scot is hoping for a strong push at the end of the year in order to reach the World Tour Finals in London. His title in Shenzhen boosted him to 10th in the standings, needing to move up two more spots to earn a spot in the exclusive club.
Standing in his way of the semifinals in Beijing is US Open champion Marin Cilic. The fourth-seeded Croat moved past Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.
Fifth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov booked a spot in the quarterfinals as well, outlasting Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4. He will play top-seeded Novak Djokovic for a spot in the semifinals.
Tomas Berdych was the other winner on Thursday. The third-seeded Czech disposed of Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4 and will take on American John Isner in the quarters.