Nadal reflects on change in fortunes against Pouille, Zverev ousts Edmund
Rafael Nadal faced two match points before defeating Lucas Pouille in the opening round of the China Open, where Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios secured straight-sets victories.
Back on the ATP World Tour stage for the first time since winning his 16th major at the US Open, Nadal had to work to avoid returning to a defeat.
Pouille drilled one chance to complete the shock straight into the net and the Spaniard took full advantage to secure a 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 victory.
After the match, Nadal reflected on their roles reversing after heÂ passedÂ up a similar chance in his US Open fourth-round defeat to the Frenchman in 2016.
"It was so close. He had two match points, one of them with an easy forehand more or less. But it's like this," said Nadal.
"I remember the match against him in the US Open when it was six-all in the tie-break, I missed an easy forehand into the net, too. That time it went for him, this time for me."
Remarkably, world number 23 Pouille represents the highest-ranked opponent Nadal has overcome on the Tour since clinching a historic 10th French Open title in June.
Nadal's Laver Cup team-mate Zverev has struggled to hit the heights individually since winning the Rogers Cup in August but opened his campaign in Beijing with a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory over Kyle Edmund.
Kyrgios produced 12 aces as he breezed past Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 6-2, announcing after the match he will donate $10 to Monica Puig's fundraising campaign for the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Irma for every ace he hits until the end of the year.
Juan Martin del Potro overcame Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 and will face third seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round, the Bulgarian defeating Damir Dzumhur 6-1 3-6 6-3.
There were also wins for Tomas Berdych, Karen Khachanov, John Isner, Leonardo Mayer and Andrey Rublev.