Spain's Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, began his quest to regain the No. 1 ranking with an easy 6-2, 6-4 win over Colombia's Santiago Giraldo at the China Open on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Nadal, who won the U.S. Open last month, had an easy first set but had to step up his game in the second set as the Colombian put up a fight, forcing the match to go one hour and 29 minutes.
"I don't want to talk about the No.1," Nadal said. "If I'm able to keep playing well every day and at the same level I played at the last couple of months, I will have a chance to be there, to be No. 1 in the future. If not, I will not have that chance."
The stadium was packed with Nadal's Chinese fans, who waved Spanish flags and cheered him on to victory.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, meanwhile, crushed Czech Lukas Rosol 6-0, 6-3.
Djokovic's next opponent will be Spain's Fernando Verdasco, while Nadal will play Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Nadal has made an extraordinary comeback this year from a knee injury that kept him out of action for several months in 2012.
He has won 10 titles this season, including the U.S. Open and his eighth French Open championship, and is close to recovering the No. 1 ranking. EFE