ATP Beijing and ATP Tokyo Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Dual 500s take place in neighboring Asian countries this week as many top names return to tournament action. Here is a preview.
ATP World Tour 500
September 29- October 7, 2012
Prize Money $2,205,000
Top 4 seeds
1: Novak Djokovic
2: David Ferrer
3: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
4: Marin Cilic
Beijing is a combined men’s and women’s event played on the grounds of the 2008 Olympic tennis center.
1st round matchups to watch:
Fernando Verdasco vs. Sam Querrey
Verdasco just lost in the quarters of Bangkok to Janko Tipsarevic, while Querrey hasn’t played since the Davis Cup tie and the US Open. Still, on a hard court surface, you would have to think Querrey will have a nice chance at grabbing the win over Verdasco.
Julien Benneteau vs. Andreas Seppi
Benneteau just upset David Ferrer to make the final in Malaysia while Seppi made the final in Metz a week ago. Both players should be in good form and it should be a fine match.
Novak Djokovic, twice a champion in Beijing, returns to tournament action after his US Open final loss and opens against a qualifier. He would then face the winner of Marinko Matosevic vs. Carlos Berlocq. Next up would be Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarters if Dolgo can get past Guillermo Garcia Lopez and the winner of Pablo Andujar vs. a long time slumping Jurgen Melzer.
Marin Cilic starts off against Marius Copil and will face the winner of Florian Mayer vs. St. Petersburg finalist Fabio Fognini. His likely quarterfinal opponent is Bangkok champion Richard Gasquet, who starts off against a qualifier and then will face a wild card in the 2ndround. Gasquet should have the momentum to do well here.
Malaysia semifinalist David Ferrer suffered an upset loss to Julien Benneteau in his last match but still took over the title of being the player with the most wins on the ATP tour this year. Ferrer starts off against Yen-Hsun Lu and then faces the winner of Feliciano Lopez vs. Ryan Harrison. This is no easy early draw. His quarterfinal opponent will be the winner of Querrey/Verdasco or Benneteau/Seppi. There are lots of chances for an upset with this draw.
Metz champ Tsonga opens against Denis Istomin and follows with the winner of Nikolay Davydenko vs. a qualifier. 7 seed Tommy Haas would be his seeded quarterfinal opponent. Haas opens with Mikhail Youzhny.
Dark Horse: Julien Benneteau
Benneteau just upset Ferrer and it’s feasible for him to do it again on the same surface a few days later. First, he will have to get through the inconsistent Seppi and then Verdasco or Querrey. Benny also suffers streaks of inconsistency mixed with streaks of fine play, but he appears to be on the right streak now and has a great chance to keep the momentum going.
Djokovic d. Gasquet
Tsonga d. Benneteau
Djokovic d. Tsonga
Novak should face limited resistance in his bid for another title, but if three Frenchman make the semis, there could be a new world record in “Allez”-ing set here.
Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
October 1-7, 2012
Prize Money $1,280,565
Top 4 seeds
1: Andy Murray
2: Tomas Berdych
3: Janko Tipsarevic
4: Juan Monaco
All 8 seeds are top 17 players, making it a solid field in Tokyo.
1st round matchups to watch:
Andy Murray vs. Gael Monfils
The US Open Champ Murray returns to tournament action against a rejuvenated but slightly rusty Gael Monfils. La Monf last played Murray twice in 2010 and they split wins on the hard court. Murray will go into this match a heavy favorite but Monfils, if healthy and sharp, could give Muzz major trouble in this 1stround match.
Janko Tipsarevic vs. Gilles Simon
Simon just beat Tipsarevic in the Bangkok semis in straight sets and Tipsy will be looking for revenge as they meet again just a couple days later. This could go either way and such repeat matches are quite fun to watch since the guys are so used to each other’s games.
Kei Nishikori vs. Go Soeda
Nishikori and Soeda are the two highest ranked players from Japan and recently led their country to a Davis Cup world group playoff victory. They last met head to head in Atlanta where Soeda knocked off his more heralded countryman in straight sets. Nishikori will be looking for friendly revenge in this one.
Murray, who is also the defending champ in Tokyo, will play the winner of Albert Ramos vs. Lukas Lacko in the 2ndround with his likely quarterfinal match up being 7 seed Stanislas Wawrinka (who faces wild card Hiroki Moriya and then the winner of Jeremy Chardy vs. Yuichi Sugita). Chardy could also reach the quarters in this part of the draw.
The winner of Tipsarevic/Simon will face St. Petersburg champ Martin Klizan or a qualifier and the likely quarterfinal match up would be against Milos Raonic, who lost in the quarters of Bangkok and has disappointed in his last few events. Also in this part of the draw is Viktor Troicki, who plays Robin Haase and Radek Stepanek, who plays Raonic.
US Open semi finalist Tomas Berdych, who led the Czech Republic to a win over Argentina in Davis Cup starts off against Benoit Paire. Berdych gets the winner of Thomaz Bellucci vs. Alejandro Falla after that. He could very well face the home number one Kei Nishikori in the quarters. Also lurking is Bangkok semifinalist Jarkko Nieminen, who has to be given at least a punchers chance against Nishikori.
Malaysia finalist Juan Monaco opens against a qualifier and then would face either Marcos Baghdatis or a qualifier. Pico is likely to face 5 seed Nicolas Almagro in the quarters in what should be a ripping match up between a couple of intense players.
Dark Horse: Martin Klizan
Klizan won his maiden title in St. Petersburg and remains on a hot streak going into Tokyo. If he can get past Tipsarevic or Simon (who might be tired from playing in Bangkok), then he has a nice chance against Raonic and could run all the way to the semis before running into Murray. It would be unlikely for him to get past Murray, but you never know what form Andy will show up in sometimes.
Murray d. Klizan
Berdych d. Almagro
Murray d. Berdych
If the predictions come true, Tokyo will be rife with US Open rematches: Berdych beat Almagro in New York and Murray beat Berdych in the semis. Look for the same results again.