2016 ATP Beijing Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The other ATP 500 level tournament this week takes place in Beijing, which is now the third of four ATP tournaments in China. Here is a preview and predictions.
ATP World Tour 500
October 3-9, 2016
Prize Money: $2,916,550
Top 4 seeds (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Andy Murray (2)
2: Rafael Nadal (4)
3: Milos Raonic (6)
4: Dominic Thiem (10)
Beijing boasts four top 10 players as both 500 level tournaments are strong this week.
First round matchups to watch:
(7)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (Q)John Millman
Millman is the best of the players who came through qualifying and could trouble the St. Petersburg semifinalist Bautista Agut. RBA is a solid baseliner though, and I’d expect him to advance.
(4)Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev
Thiem has won 3 times against Zverev this year and has won at least one match in his last four tournaments. Zverev won the St. Petersburg title, his greatest triumph thus far on tour, and will be ready for this battle. I’m going with Thiem if he’s not too exhausted given the h2h.
(8)Richard Gasquet vs. Sam Querrey
Querrey has looked terrible since he knocked off Djokovic at Wimbledon, and he badly needs to get a boost of confidence. A win over the seeded Gasquet, who comes off the Shenzen final,, would give him the boost he needs. Gasquet is the favorite but if he’s not 100% Querrey will have a chance.
Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Bernard Tomic
Neither PCB nor Tomic have played well in their most recent outings. PCB continues to improve on hard courts, while Tomic will be the favorite and needs to get used to winning regular ATP matches like this if he’s going to get back to getting himself seeded in 500 level tournaments.
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Steve Johnson
Dimitrov comess of the semis in Chengdu and has split meetings with Johnson this year. Johnson is a more traditional baseliner, while Dimitrov has more flair. The American is playing for the first time since an early exit at the US Open and may be rusty. I’m going with Dimitrov to break their h2h deadlock.
Despite dropping a Davis Cup rubber and losing in the US Open quarters, top seed Andy Murray should still dispatch Andreas Seppi, and the winner of Konstantin Kravchuk/Andrey Kuznetsov to reach the quarters. Murray is simply better than his competition, and RBA looks set for the quarters, presuming the Spaniard beats Millman and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Kyle Edmund. Murray over RBA is my pick in the quarters.
I have Dominic Thiem beating Zverev, Jack Sock, and an in-form Viktor Troicki to reach the semis. It’s a very tough path for the Austrian. Sock is playing for the first time since the US Open and opens with wild card Ze Zhang. Troicki faces a struggling Fabio Fognini, and David Ferrer opens with Pablo Cuevas in this section. Ferrer has been a disappointment this year, and the in-form Troicki is my upset pick over the #5 seed.
Rafael Nadal opens with Paolo Lorenzi, who is playing the best he ever has, but is still nowhere near Rafa’s level. Nadal could rematch with Lucas Pouille, who stunned him in New York, if Pouille can beat wild card Rendy Lu, and the Dimitrov/Johnson winner. Pouille has been playing well enough that I think he’ll defeat Dimitrov before falling to Nadal in their rematch. Nadal will face qualifier Adrian Mannarino or Albert Ramos in round 2, Ramos was an ATP finalist last week in a surprise.
Milos Raonic opens with Florian Mayer, an in-form Malek Jaziri or Guido Pella will follow, with Gasquet/Querrey or Tomic/Carreno Busta next up. Raonic needs wins in his quest to qualify for London and even though he may not be 100% I have him serving his way into the quarters, then beating a tired Gasquet.
Dark Horse: Viktor Troicki
In a section featuring Thiem, Zverev, Sock, and Ferrer, the unheralded name of Viktor Troicki could be the one to survive. He’s been playing well lately and is solid on this surface.
Murray d. Thiem
Nadal d. Raonic
The top 2 seeds have their own reason to make a push for the title here, Murray needs to find form again before the Shanghai Masters, while Nadal would love an ATP title to boost his confidence after wrist problems.
Nadal d. Murray
Nadal should really want this title and I’m going with him in an upset.