Nadal back, women cash in at revamped China Open

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 102 month(s) ago 4 readings

World number two Rafa Nadal returns to action at the China Open next week but for once the top women will be the biggest earners as the tournament enters a new era as a $6.6 million mixed event.

Nadal had been a doubt due to an abdominal injury but he has confirmed he is fit to top the bill at the ATP event.

However, he will have to vie for attention with most of the world's best 47 women in one of the WTA's four new mandatory "crown jewel" tournaments.

"The China Open has got the distinction of having a women's event that has got $4.5 million in prize money and a men's event that is less than half of that," WTA President David Shoemaker told Reuters recently.

"In the long history of tennis there have been too many events where the opposite was true, so we're pretty proud of that."

Nadal, who has not played since a U.S. Open semi-final defeat to eventual champion Juan Martin Del Potro last month, won the China Open in 2005 and will have fond memories of the new venue, the Olympic tennis center where he clinched gold last year.

World number four Novak Djokovic and number six Andy Roddick will be among those out to stop the Spaniard claiming his sixth title of the year, while Beijing will be one of the last stops on the tour for retiring 2004 China Open champion Marat Safin.

The bonus ranking points on offer for the women will be attractive to Serena Williams as she continues her efforts to unseat Dinara Safina as world number one.

Serena and her sister Venus won Olympic doubles gold on their last trip to Beijing and Russia's Elena Dementieva, who won the women's singles title, will be another welcoming a return to the venue.

Belgian comeback queen Kim Clijsters has decided to remain at home after last month's emotional U.S. Open triumph but her compatriot Yanina Wickmayer will play on a wild card.

Wickmayer gets her reward for her surprise run to the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows but the other teenage sensation at the U.S. Open, American Melanie Oudin, will have to get through qualifying.

Local hopes of success will be entirely focused on the women's draw where the in-form Li Na and former China Open semi-finalists Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai will all be looking to give the home crowds something cheer about.

Matches in the main draw of the women's event start on Saturday while the ATP event gets going on Monday.

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