Beijing, Oct 4 (IANS) Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal will meet Chinese world No.224 Wu Di in the first round of the China Open, which kicks off here early next week, and could face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a couple of rounds later.
Also in Nadal’s half of the draw, which was released on Saturday, are second seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, who will square off against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in the first round, Efe reported.
Nadal, the third seed, arrives in the Chinese capital after losing on Friday to Serbian world No.1 Novak Djokovic in an exhibition match in Bangkok.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion, who has struggled through his worst season in more than a decade and is now ranked No.7, lost in the third round of the US Open last month to Italian Fabio Fognini.
He could face Tsonga in Friday’s quarter-finals and Berdych in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Nadal’s countryman, David Ferrer, who on Saturday reached the final of a hard-court event in Kuala Lumpur, also is playing in Beijing and will meet Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in the first round.
The fourth-seeded Ferrer could later take on Canadian fifth seeded Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals and top-seeded Djokovic, winner of the China Open in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, in the semi-finals.
Nadal won this hard-court tournament, part of the ATP Tour’s late-season Asian swing, as a teenager in 2005 and reached the final in 2013.
The women’s tournament in Beijing, meanwhile, got underway on Saturday, with sixth seeded Serbian Ana Ivanovic starting strong with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Australia’s Casey Dellacqua in the first evening match.
World No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania and fourth-ranked Czech Petra Kvitova are the No.1 and No.2 seeds, respectively, while Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza, who was forced to pull out of the final of this week’s event in Wuhan, China, is seeded fifth.
Despite having to retire on Saturday against veteran American Venus Williams while trailing 3-6, 0-3, Muguruza will move up to a career best No.5 when the next WTA Rankings are released on Monday.