Rafael Nadal came within a whisker of making an opening-round exit at the China open tennis tournament as he was pushed to three sets by Frenchman Lucas Pouille before winning 4-6, 7-6 and 7-5.

The world number one, who was beaten by Pouille the last time they met at the 2016 U.S. Open, lost a close first set before saving two match points in a second-set tiebreak to level things up.

Nadal needed all his experience to keep Pouille at bay in the decider and the match looked to be heading for another tiebreak before he pounced to break Pouille’s serve for the first time to go 6-5 up in the third.

The Spaniard held his nerve to close out the match in clinical fashion after two hours and 31 minutes.

Earlier, Juan Martin Del Potro stormed into round two with a comprehensive 7-6 and 6-4 win over Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas and will face third seed Grigor Dimitrov, who battled past Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 3-6 and 6-3.

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