- Rafael Nadal beats Richard Gasquet at the China Open on his return from injury
- Spaniard had been out for three months with a right wrist injury
- World No. 2 was unable to defend his U.S. Open title during his layoff
The last time Rafael Nadal came back from a long-term layoff, he enjoyed one of the finest seasons of an outstanding career -- reaching nine consecutive finals on his return from a knee injury, and winning both the French and U.S. Open grand slams in 2013.
On Tuesday, the Spaniard took to the court for the first time in three months and looked as though he had never been away as he blitzed past Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the China Open.
Needing just 78 minutes to win 6-4 6-0 in the opening round, the world No. 2 appeared to feel no effects of the right wrist injury he suffered while practicing at home in Mallorca in late July.
"In general, I have to be happy the way that I played," Nadal, a 14-time grand slam winner, told the official ATP Tour website.
"After three months without a match, winning against a good player like Richard is a very positive comeback for me. I think I played solid, no mistakes."
Nadal, who presented Li Na with a bouquet of flowers as China said goodbye to its biggest tennis star on Tuesday, had not played since his surprise fourth round defeat by Australian Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon on July 1.
His problematic wrist meant he was unable to defend his title at this month's U.S. Open, where Croatia's Marin Cilic emerged as a surprise winner.
"More important than winning or losing is spending time on court. That's the key for me at the moment: spending time on court, playing matches," said Nadal.
"At least I am going to play two matches minimum here. That's a positive thing. I'm going to try my best to play three."
The 28-year-old has returned to action even though he says his wrist is not quite 100% healed.
Nadal has a decent record in Beijing -- having won the China Open in 2005 and Olympic gold in 2008.
Last year, he finished runner-up as Novak Djokovic won his fourth China Open title.
The Serb took his record in Beijing to 20-0 when beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2 6-1 as Djokovic played his first match since being stunned by Japan's Kei Nishikori in the U.S. Open semifinal.