Nadal saves 2 match points, advances at China Open

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BEIJING (AP) Rafael Nadal needed to save two match points before advancing to the second round at the China Open.

The top-ranked Spaniard, playing for the first time since winning the U.S. Open title last month, rallied to beat Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5 Tuesday.

Pouille held two match points while leading 6-4 in the second-set tiebreaker. But Nadal reeled off four straight points to take the set and turn the match around.

“Was a very tough first round, as I say the other day,” said Nadal, who lost to Pouille in five sets at the 2016 U.S. Open. “He played well, I think. Very aggressive. He’s serving well. For me was little bit difficult at the beginning. Then I started to play better, I think.

“But still, I didn’t have the control of the match for almost all the time.”

In the final set, Nadal broke Pouille’s serve to take a 6-5 lead and then served out the match.

Nadal is 57-9 this season and leads the tour with five ATP singles titles, including the French Open. He won the China Open title as a teenager in 2005 and has a 21-5 record in Beijing. He next plays Thursday against Karen Khachanov, who beat Chinese wild-card entry Wu Di.

Earlier, Juan Martin del Potro advanced by beating Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“It was enough to win. I play good in important moments of the match, that’s the tiebreaks and the last game of the second set,” said the 2009 U.S. Open champion, who returned to professional tennis last year after wrist surgery.

Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, sixth-seeded John Isner, eighth-seeded Nick Kyrgios and Leonardo Mayer also advanced.

In the women’s tournament, Maria Sharapova rallied to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

“She definitely picked it up in the second. But I felt like although she won that second set, I was really motivated to start the third,” Sharapova said. “I was questioning how I would feel physically, but I felt really good going into the third set.”

The former top-ranked Russian will next face second-seeded Simona Halep on Wednesday.

“We know each other’s games very well. That’s no secret. They’ve always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional,” Sharapova said. “Any time you’re able to face an opponent that’s done something and well, it’s great to see where you are and where your level is.”

Halep advanced after Magdalena Rybarikova retired from their match while trailing 6-1, 2-1.

Other winners include Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina, Petra Kvitova, Daria Gavrilova, Sorana Cirstea, Darla Kasatkina and Barbora Strycova.

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.