Top 3 seeds are safely through to the second round of Beijing, as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Milos Raonic all scored straight sets wins. Murray and especially Nadal had no problems what so ever in their matches, while Raonic had to show a little bit more to defeat Florian Mayer.
In the most anticipating match of the day, young star Alexander Zverev continued where he left in St. Petersburg, defeating the 4th seed Dominic Thiem for the first time in their 4 meetings (all in 2016). A 2005 Beijing champion, Rafael Nadal, had an impressive opener against Italian Paolo Lorenzi, defeating the Italian 6-1 6-1 in 64 minutes.
Nadal served well, losing 11 points in 7 service games, saving both break points, and he dominated on the return as well, winning 60% of the points on Lorenzi's serve and breaking him 5 times. A former world number 1 kept the initiative on his racquet, finishing the match with 22 winners and 18 unforced errors, while Lorenzi managed to score only 2 winners, with 16 errors.
In their previous 2 matches, all on clay, Lorenzi made Nadal earn his wins, but it was all about Spaniard today who gave no chances to his rival. Lorenzi lost his serve in game 2 to find himself 3-0 down, but he could erase the deficit, having 2 break points in game 5.
Nadal saved both and broke Lorenzi at love in the following game, ending the opening set on own serve in game 7. Lorenzi had at least 30-30 on return in 3 Nadal's games but he couldn't make the final steps and steal Rafa's serve.
The same result occurred in the second set as well, but Nadal played at a higher level than in the first set, consigning only 2 points on serve and breaking Lorenzi 3 times in succession to grab the final 6 games of the match and book his place in the second round.
The 1st seed Andy Murray has beaten Andreas Seppi 6-2 7-5 in just under an hour, with a lot of work to do in the second set but with the nice performance overall. Both players struggled to find the first serve and Andy was the one who got the most from his initial shot, losing 13 points in 10 service games and playing particularly goo don his first serve. Seppi struggled to keep the pace on his second serve, losing almost 50% of the points in his games and playing against 11 break points.
Andy broke him 4 times, which proved to be enough for a straight sets win. Murray sailed through the opening set with ease, notching 4 comfortable holds and pushing Seppi to the limits on return with 5 break points, converting those in games 6 and 8 to end it with 4 games in a row.
Seppi made his only break in the first game of the second set to go 2-0 in front, but Andy didn't stay behind for too long, breaking back in game 4 on his 5th break point, in what has been the longest game of the match.
After that, the crowd could see solid tennis from both, as they were closing on the tie break after 7 easy holds. Out of nowhere, Seppi played a loose game when he served to stay in the match at 5-6, making some horrible errors to get broken, losing the set 7-5 and a chance to eventually fight for sending the match into a decider.
Milos Raonic came to Beijing with high hopes, after early exits at the US Open and in St. Petersburg, and he made a good start with a 6-4 7-6 win over Florian Mayer. In their first meeting since Rome 2012 (interestingly, Mayer prevailed in that match by 6-4 7-6) Milos was the dominant figure, firing 23 aces and losing 12 points in 11 service games. Mayer couldn't follow that pattern in his service games, playing against 7 break points and saving 5 of them to stay in contention to at least win one set.
Milos was untouchable on his serve from the opening two booming serves that stayed unreturned, losing just 3 points on serve in the opening set and waiting for his chance on the return. He kept the points short, dictating the pace with serve&forehand combinations, moving Florian around the baseline without letting him to impose his slices and drop shots that could cause Milos problems.
Mayer saved a break point in his first service game but his rhythm was fine in the following games, looking good to reach the tie break. Still, Milos had some other plans and he made a break at the best possible moment, in game 10 when Mayer served to stay in the set.
Canadian continued to serve at an unreachable level in set number 2 as well, losing 3 points in his first 4 service games, and he broke Mayer at love in game 6 to see the finish line clearly in his sights. He served for victory in game 9 but the lack of concentration cost him dearly, as Mayer broke back in the last moment to prolong the set when nobody expected that.
Raonic regained his composure pretty soon, to eases past through the tie break with 3 mini-breaks, taking it 7-1 to advance to the second round. Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, rising stars of the ATP Tour, good friends and doubles partners sometimes, made quite a rivalry in 2016, playing 3 matches this spring (all on clay, all won by Thiem) and the 4th here in Beijing, in the most anticipated match of the opening round (even though it wasn't televised).
Zverev entered this match in a better form, claiming his first ATP title two weeks ago in St. Petersburg, and after beating Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka in Russia, his winning streak against Top 10 players continued here, as he outplayed Thiem by 4-6 6-1 6-3 for his first win against the Austrian. It was an open battle, with 13 games that reached deuce or break points, and it was Zverev who was stronger in the crucial points, saving 4 out of 6 break points and creating 14 break points, to convert 5.
It was a shaky start for both rivals, with exchanged breaks in the opening games, and it was young German who had a chance to be on the positive side at the end of the set, having 4 break points in game 8. Thiem saved them all and this gave him the edge, as he broke Sascha in game 9, to serve out for the set in game 10, taking the final 3 games from 3-4 down.
The main problem for Zverev in this first part of the match was poor first serve percentage, and once he started to serve better he claimed the advantage in the points. In set number 2 he pulled himself together, improving both his serve and return, to win the set 6-1.
Sascha saved a break point in the opening game and from that moment on he imposed his game, taking 5 games in a row including a double break. A few minutes later the set was over, and the younger player was now the favorite to take the win, with Thiem not being in a right form for quite some time now.
There were no breaks in the first 6 games, with Zverev saving one break point to stay in touch, and that shifted the momentum to his side, winning the last 4 games of the match to clinch the 3rd set 6-3 and progress to the next round.
Full results are on the next page.. ALSO READ: ATP TOKYO: Monfils, Goffin and Kyrgios all advance, Karlovic save 2 MP's in a thriller against Delbonis