BEIJING (Reuters) - 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 worlds best 47 women in one of the WTAs four new mandatory crown jewel tournaments. The China Open has got the distinction of having a womens event that has got $4.5 million in prize money and a mens 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 were 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 centre 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. LOCAL HOPES 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 Russias Elena Dementieva, who won the womens singles title, will be another welcoming a return to the venue. Belgian comeback queen Kim Clijsters has decided to remain at home after last months 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 womens 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. Meanwhile, China plays host to its biggest tennis tournament since the Olympics from Saturday, with Dinara Safina and Rafael Nadal headlining the revamped China Open. Identifying the nation as a key strategic marketplace, the WTA and ATP have upgraded the event to become a cornerstone of their respective tours and many of the worlds best players are in town. Womens world number one Safina arrived in Beijing early, keen to get back on track after being dumped out of this weeks Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in the first round. A key rival to her resurgence will be Serena Williams, playing her first tournament since the abusive and threatening tirade she launched at a line judge in a semi-final loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the US Open. The 11-time Grand Slam champion, who was fined 10,500 dollars, has been busy since then promoting her new book, but will have only one thing on her mind when she picks up her racquet here to win another title. Sister Venus, another top seed knocked out in Tokyo at the first hurdle, is also in Beijing, as are most of the worlds top 20, including defending champion Jelena Jankovic. But Clijsters is not taking part, preferring to maintain a balance between tennis and being a mother, meaning she will only play a few more select events this year. Local hopes lie with Li Na, Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai. World number five Andy Roddick is the defending champion on the mens side and with Roger Federer opting to miss the tours Asian swing, Nadal and Novak Djokovic are his main threats. Nadal pulled out of the Thailand Open last week with a stomach injury but has recovered and will play. With an 11-0 record in Beijing he won in 2005 and then claimed Olympic gold in 2008 the Spaniard is the man to beat. Britains Andy Murray has skipped Beijing to play in Tokyo. The tournament is expected to be Marat Safins last, with the big Russian set to retire after Beijing, something that has not been missed by organisers who plan to throw a party after handing him a wildcard. The event is played at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre, the first tournament since the Games in 2008, with womens qualifying starting on Friday. The womens main draw gets underway Saturday and the mens on Monday.