Top Seeds Shine @ChinaOpen Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The China Open has been dominated in recent years by Novak Djokovic, who is bidding to tin the title for the fourth consecutive time. Ahead of the main draw, qualifying got underway which saw the top three seeds successfully qualify.
Top seed and British No.2 Aljaz Bedene dropped eleven games en route to the main draw. Bedene is currently at a career ranking high of 55th in the world. In his first match Bedene eased his way past Chinese wildcard Yecong He (6-3,6-0). He is currently ranked 653rd in the world and is yet to win a title. Following his win over He, Bedene faced 35-year-old Michael Berrer. Berrer defeated 7th seed Alexander Zverev in the first round. The Brit dropped his serve once to take the match 6-4,6-4.
In the first round Bedene will play Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol. Bedene has beaten the Czech twice before, but their last encounter was three years ago in the 2012 Prague Challenger.
Denis Istomin defeated Luke Saville is straight sets to set up a showdown with Chinese wildcard Zhang Zhizhen. The 18-year-old upset Lithuanian fifth seed Ricardas Berankis in the first round. Despite Istomin being ranked 500 places higher, Zhizhen unexpectedly took the first set to the delight of his home crowd. Istomin silenced the crowd by clawing his way back to win the match 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Istomin will play another Chinese player in the main draw, Ze Zhang. Zhang is currently ranked 216th in the world which is far from his 2013 ranking high of 148.
Third seed Simone Bolelli experienced a fairly straightforward route to the main draw which included a first round win against Novak Djokovic’s brother, Djordje Djokovic. The 20-year-old Serbian received a wildcard into the draw and is ranked 1490th in the world. He has one title to his name which was a doubles title from a Futures tournament in 2013. The Italian brushed Djokovic aside 6-0,6-4. In the final round of qualifying he encountered stiffer resistance from Andrey Kuznetsov. In both sets Bolelli went down a break of service at the start before clawing his way back to win 6-2, 7-6 (2).
In the main draw Bolelli will play another Djokovic, world No.1 Novak. The top seed has an outstanding record at the tournament with a win-loss of 24-0. Since 2009 he has won the tournament five out of six times. The only exception was in 2011 when Djokovic withdrew due to a torn muscle. The Italian has played the world No.1 four times between 2006-2009 and is yet to win a match against the Serbian.
Finally, Australia’s John Millman cruised into the main draw. In the first round, he defeated fellow countryman James Duckworth (6-4, 6-4) to set up a clash with China’s Bai Yan. Yan stunned fourth seed Lucas Pouille in the first round. Yan is currently at a career ranking high of 266 in the world and has won two Futures titles this year. Despite the positive upsurge in Yan’s form, he was no match for Millman. The world No.75 dropped two games to win the match 6-1, 6-1, after sixty-three minutes.
In the first round Millman will play Spain’s Tommy Robredo. The Australian has a 2-0 head-to-head lead against Robredo. In the first round of this year’s Wimbledon tournament, he defeated the Spaniard in straight sets.