Nadal survives big scare in Beijing opener

Pouille broke Nadal on the way to taking the first set 6-4, and the world number 23 came within a whisker of sealing a shock when the second set went to a tie break.

In a final set shot-out, Nadal got the break of serve in the 11th game before serving for the set and match 7-5.   -  Getty Images

World number one Rafael Nadal saved two match points to survive the first round of the China Open, just about seeing off France's Lucas Pouille in three sets on Tuesday.

Pouille broke Nadal on the way to taking the first set 6-4, and the world number 23 came within a whisker of sealing a shock when the second set went to a tie break.

READ: Sharapova labours into Beijing round three

But Nadal, with the Beijing crowd backing him, held his nerve when twice staring defeat in the face, and then fought back to win the tie break 8-6.

READ: Sports and politics don't mix, says Nadal

The duo headed into a final-set shootout and again Pouille refused to buckle, Nadal getting the break of serve in the 11th game before serving for the set and match 7-5.

Nadal's fellow Spaniard and women's world number one Garbine Muguruza exited the tournament in the first round on Monday when she retired from her match with a virus.