Donald Young, Mikhail Youzhny Ease Into Japan Open Main Draw
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
16 players battled against each other for four spots into the main draw of the 42nd Japan Open. This year’s main draw is headlined by French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and defending champion Kei Nishikori.
Top seed Donald Young continued his recent spat of impressive form by producing two straight sets wins during the qualifying competition. The world No. 50 is playing in his first tournament since the US Open where he stunned Viktor Troicki to reach the last sixteen of the tournament for the first time since 2011. In the first round, he beat Poland’s Michał Przysiężny 6-1, 7-6 (1). The Pole hasn’t played in the main draw of an ATP tournament since last year’s Japan Open. In the second round Young played Japan’s Hiroki Moriya, who knocked out 8th seed Yūichi Sugita in the first round. Young eased his way to the 6-1, 6-4, win after seventy-two minutes on the court.
In the main draw Young will play sixth seed Marin Cilic. It will be the first time that they have played each other since 2011. Their first meeting was in the quarterfinal of the 2005 Australian Open boys competition.
Young wasn’t the only American triumph during the competition. 7th seed Austin Krajicek stunned second seed Nicolas Mahut. The distant cousin of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek breezed past wild card Shuichi Sekiguchi in the first round to set up a showdown with the Frenchman. The American was in impressive form, dropping just one point on his serve during the first set. Two breaks during the early-mid stages of both sets was enough to enable Krajicek to take the match 6-4, 6-4.
In the main draw Krajicek will play another qualifier, Matthew Ebden. Ebden’s route to the final was the most impressive performance with the Australian defeating the fourth and sixth seed. In the first round, he beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (5), 6-0. In the final round, he had a tough test against Japan’s Go Soeda. During the match, which lasted over two hours, Ebden recovered from a 0-3 deficit in the final set to win 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. It is the second time that Ebden has beaten Soeda on Japanese soil. The first was at the 2013 Yokohama Challenger.
The final qualifier was former world No.8 Mikhail Youzhny. In the first round he played veteran Finnish player Jarkko Nieminen, who is retiring at the end of the season. After a close first set, the Russian took the match 7-6 (3), 6-3. In the final round, he endured another close match against US Open doubles champion Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Youzhny saved a set point in the first break before taking the tie-breaker 9-7. The second set was also on course for another tie-break until Youzhny broke Herbert’s serve for the third time of the match to win 7-6 (7), 6-4.
The reward for Youzhny’s efforts will be a first round clash with France’s Gilles Simon. Youzhny currently boasts a head-to-head lead of 8-3 against the Frenchman. Their last meeting was at the Canadian Open earlier this year where Youzhny won the match 6-1, 6-4.