Rafael Nadal complains about ball quality at the China Open

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Rafael Nadal has criticised the ATP for the quality of the balls provided for this year’s China Open.

The Spaniard advanced to the quarter-finals of the tournament in Beijing on Thursday by defeating German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4, to set up a meeting with Slovakia’s Martin Klizan.

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But the world number two was not entirely in high spirits after the match, as he is not satisfied with the bounce of the balls that the ATP have supplied for the hard court tournament.

New balls please

The 28-year-old has previously stated his fears that changing balls from week to week could result in shoulder injuries for players, and it remains an issue with him.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner said of the balls manufactured by Head: "The ball is so bad here. If you throw the ball on the floor, the bounce goes everywhere.

“It’s not a question of winning or losing. I won in Rio (earlier this year) with this ball. I won tournaments with this ball.

"It's just that we're competing at the top level of our sport, tennis, and the ball is an important thing."

Return from injury

The second seed is also hoping to improve his game as the tournament progresses, as he continues to rediscover full fitness after returning from the wrist injury that forced him to miss this year’s US Open.

"In general I need to improve. It's obvious. My serve worked well today. But in general I need more rhythm on the legs, more rhythm on the shots.

“I am playing okay, trying to not miss a lot, trying to play with not too many risks. That's what I did today. It's the only way to have matches, only way to have rhythm.”

Friday’s match against Klizan will be the third time Nadal has faced the world number 56, and he has won both of their previous two matches, the last of which was in the first round at Wimbledon last June, which Nadal won in four sets.

Klizan set up the clash by causing a surprise earlier on Wednesday, as he beat seventh seed Ernests Gulbis, who pulled out of the match with injury when trailing 6-2, 3-0.

Nadal is playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon, where he was shocked by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios, a wildcard who stunned the two-time champion with a four-set victory, and the Mallorcan has been forced to miss the majority of the hard court season.

He is competing in his last outdoor tournament of the year, and there is a chance that he could face world number one Novak Djokovic in the final should he progress to that stage.

A topsy-turvy year

Missing almost three months of action, which saw him unable to defend his US Open title or compete in ATP Masters 1000 Series events in Toronto and Cincinnati in August, has all but ended his chances of finishing the year at the top of the ATP rankings, as he trails Djokovic by just under 3500 points.

Despite the injury problems, Nadal has had a satisfactory year on the ATP tour, as he won a record ninth French Open title in June when he beat Djokovic in a four-set final, and he also reached the final of the Australian Open in January, where he was beaten by Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka.

Nadal is aiming to win his fifth singles title of the year and 65th overall, as he has also won titles in Doha, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid in 2014.

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