Novak Djokovic continued his momentum from the US Open, winning ATP Shanghai without dropping a set to claim his second ATP Masters title of the season. Djokovic eased past Borna Coric 6-3 6-4 in the final after dispatching Jeremy Chardy, Marco Cecchinato, Kevin Anderson, and Alexander Zverev with ease. Djokovic didn’t face a weak field, but he wasn’t bothered through five matches. Djokovic has now won 18 straight tour level matches as he’s won three tournaments in a row.
Coric reached his second final for 2018 and his first ever Masters final, after dropping a set against Stan Wawrinka, he defeated Bradley Klahn, an exhausted Juan Martin Del Potro, Matt Ebden, and Roger Federer to reach the final. The win against Federer one of the most notable of his rapidly rising career.
Kubot/Melo won their second consecutive doubles final, this time against Murray/Soares in straight sets.
Qualifier Daniil Medvedev took the ATP 500 title in Tokyo, it’s the third title for the young Russian in 2018 and this time he upset home hero Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-4 in the final. Medvedev dropped a set in qualifying but in the main draw he couldn’t be touched. He defeated Diego Schwartzman, Martin Klizan, Milos Raonic, and Denis Shapovalov to reach the final without dropping a set, crushing Canadian hopes in consecutive matches.
Nishikori didn’t drop a set prior to the final, Yuichi Sugita, Benoit Paire, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Richard Gasquet all lost to him in routine fashion. It’s Nishikori’s second ATP final loss in 2018 as he is still without a title this season.
Mclachlan/Struff defeated Klaasen/Venus in the doubles final.
Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili won his second ATP title of 2018 6-4 6-4 against Juan Martin Del Potro in the ATP Beijing 500 final. Basilashvili has had a career year as he came back from a set down against Jack Sock to win in three sets, then defeated Fernando Verdasco, Malek Jaziri, and Kyle Edmund in straight sets.
The favored Del Potro reached his 6th tour level fina lof the season, getting a walkover in the semis against Fabio Fognini after previously defeating Albert Ramos, Karen Khachanov, and Filip Krajinovic without dropping a set.
Kubot/Melo defeated Marach/Pavic in the doubles final.
ATP World Tour Continues Tour of China With 500 Stop in Beijing Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP 500 in Beijing is the third of four ATP stops in China this year, and features a stronger field than the previous two events combined. Here is your look at the action this week.
While he faces credible opposition, under no circumstances should Juan Martin Del Potro not be favored to reach the semifinals as his path of Albert Ramos, Sam Querrey/Karen Khachanov, and likely Borna Coric in the quarters is not incredibly burdensome. Coric opens with Feliciano Lopez, Filip Krajinovic or Mischa Zverev are set to follow. Del Potro is the best form player in this section and the most talented, so he should take it.
Section 2 is weak and unpredictable, #4 seed Fabio Fognini is in good form but will likely be fatigued, meaning that qualifier Radu Albot has a genuine shot at an upset. Joao Sousa made a semifinal last week and should be favored against a struggling Andrey Rublev. I’ll back Sousa in this section defeating Albot in round 2. Marton Fucsovics should edge Andreas Seppi in round 1, while Marcos Baghdatis is better on hard courts than #8 seed Marco Cecchinato. Sousa over Fucsovics is my pick for the section after Fucsovics defeats Baghdatis.
Section 4 of the draw should see some upsets as I’ll back Roberto Bautista Agut to upset Alexander Zverev in round 1, and Gael Monfils to upset Fernando Verdasco. Monfils should go on to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili/Jack Sock, while RBA will be favored against Malek Jaziri/Yibing Wu. RBA is better than his current unseeded ranking and Monfils has to make a run at some point. RBA over Monfils is my pick in this section.
I’ll back Kyle Edmund to rebound from a recent slump and have a good tournament, Edmund has a path of Peter Gojowczyk, Matteo Berrettini/Leonardo Mayer, and probably Ryan Harrison/Grigor Dimitrov to reach the semis. I’m not sold on Dimitrov right now, and I’ll take Harrison in an upset. Dusan Lajovic faces fellow qualifier Vasek Pospisil in this section, with Edmund over Harrison my pick.
Goffin, Dimitrov, and French Stars Finish the 2017 ATP Season Strong Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Goffin Makes a Big Run
Despite falling short in the Davis Cup final as a team, David Goffin had a great finish to 2017, as he won titles in Shenzhen and Tokyo, reached the semifinals in Basel, and then the final in the ATP World Tour Finals in London. After the US Open he scored wins over Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino, Jack Sock, Dominic Thiem, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. In the Davis Cup final he defeated Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but it still wasn’t enough.
France Captures Davis Cup
France finally won the Davis Cup, after losing a multitude of finals Tsonga and Pouille defeated Steve Darcis twice, and Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore in what turned out to be the critical doubles rubber. Pouille defeated his teammate Tsonga in the Vienna 500 final, while Tsonga won Antwerp.
Breakthrough for Sock
Jack Sock won the biggest title of his career at the Paris Masters, he won over a weakened field with wins over Kyle Edmund, Pouille, Fernando Verdasco, Julien Benneteau, and Filip Krajinovic. He qualified for the World Tour Finals by virtue of that victory and reached the semifinals after going 2-1 with wins over Alexander Zverev and Marin Cilic.
Dimitrov and Del Potro Looking Strong Heading Into 2018
Grigor Dimitrov finished the year with 49 wins and 4 titles as he reached the final in Stockholm, and the final at the World Tour Finals in London, beating Pablo Carreno Busta, Goffin twice, Dominic Thiem, and Sock.
Juan Martin Del Potro reached the semis in Shanghai, the final in Basel, took a title in Stockholm, and finished the year with a quarterfinal in Paris.
Nadal and Federer Finish 1-2
Damir Dzumhur has 2 ATP titles to end the year as he won in both St. Petersburg and Moscow, while Hyeon Chung won the Next-Gen finals over Andrey Rublev. Nadal won Beijing and lost the final in Shanghai, shutting down his season at the World Tour Finals due to injury concerns but still finishing year end world #1. Federer won Shanghai and Basel to finish year end #2.
Goffin Takes 2 ATP titles in as many weeks, Nadal and Istomin Add to Trophy Case Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
David Goffin has made a great run of things after the US Open, he’s finishing the season out strong as he defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets in the Shenzhen final, after winning a three setter over Henri Laaksonen in the semis, and also earning wins over Evgeny Donskoy and Donald Young. Dolgopolov reached his third final of hte season with wins over Lloyd Harris, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Dudi Sela, and Damir Dzumhur. He beat Sela because Sela had to retire in the third set of their quarterfinal match due to religious reasons, as he was observing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
The doubles title was won by Alex Peya and Rajeev Ram over Mektic/Monroe.
In Chengdu, Denis Istomin turned back the clock and won his second career ATP title via a retirement victory over Marcos Baghdatis. Istomin scored wins over Jan-Lennard Struff, Karen Khachanov, Jared Donaldson, and Yuichi Sugita as the Chengdu field was decimated by upsets. The veteran Baghdatis beat Vasek Pospisil, Peter Gojowczyk, Yen-Hsun Lu, and Guido Pella to reach the final. Erlich/Qureshi beat Daniell/Demoliner in the doubles final.
Goffin beat Adrian Mannarino in straight sets in the Tokyo final, he continued his winning streak from Shenzhen with wins over Feliciano Lopez, Matthew Ebden, Richard Gasquet, and Diego Schwartzman to reach the final, He won over Schwartzman narrowly, and came back from a set down against Ebden.
Mannarino reached his second final of the season scoring wins over Go Soeda, Jiri Vesely, Yuichi Sugita, and Marin Cilic to reach the final, the Frenchman isn’t done yet this season and has already had a career best year on tour at 29.
Mclachlan/Uchiyama beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in a shocking doubles final upset, they beat both of the tournament’s top doubles seeds as wild cards.
Rafael Nadal improved to 61-9 on the season by taking the final in Beijing, his 6th of the year. Nadal saved match points against Lucas Pouille in the opening round and then blitzed past Karen Khachanov, John Isner, and Grigor Dimitrov before dominating Nick Kyrgios in the final.
Kyrgios, playing in his second final of 2017, didn’t seem comfortable, but played much better against Nikoloz Basilashvili, Mischa Zverev, Steve Darcis, and Alexander Zverev, all of whom he beat to reach the final.
Kontinen/Peers beat Isner/Sock in the doubles final.
World #2 Andy Murray is making his push for a year end World number 1 ranking and he took a bed step towards that quest with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the Beijing 500 level final. Murray dictated play, getting a needed break in the first set, and easing his way through in a second set tiebreak, despite Dimitrov’s best efforts, showing the difference in class and level between the two players. Murray has now claimed 40 titles in his career, and he’s clearly hungry for more.
Murray didn’t drop a set against Andreas Seppi, Andrey Kuznetsov, Kyle Edmund, and David Ferrer as he was the king of China for the week, and will look to continue that momentum in Shanghai.
Dimitrov moved to 35-22 on the season with wins over Steve Johnson, Lucas Pouille, and Rafael Nadal, who he dominated in straight sets after dropping sets in his first two matches. His semifinal opponent Milos Raonic went down with an injured ankle so he got a walkover into the final. Unfortunately for the Bulgarian, he is now 0-3 in ATP finals this season.
Pablo Carreno Busta and Rafael Nadal won the doubles title over Jack Sock and Bernard Tomic. Nadal now has 11 ATP doubles titles in his career plus an Olympic gold medal in doubles.
Nick Kyrgios found himself down a set, and in deep trouble late in the third set as well, but the Australian showed surprising poise and a sense of calm as he slipped past David Goffin 4-6 6-3 7-5 and kept himself alive in the race for London. It was the biggest title of Kyrgios young career, worth 500 points, and despite throwing in some errors in the final match, he served well, while Goffin spewed errors when it mattered and got tight himself.
Kyrgios beat Ryan Harrison, Gilles Muller, and Gael Monfils without dropping a set in what was a big week for him. Goffin beat Yoshihito Nishioka, Jiri Vesely, Joao Sousa, and Marin Cilic, dropping just a set to Sousa prior to the final. He’s not the biggest guy on tour but his steady ball striking again yielded a great result.
In the ATP Race for London’s World Tour Finals, Monfils, Cilic, and Nadal boosted their standing, while Goffin and Kyrgios are on the edge of the race at 11th and 12th place respectively. Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori both struggled this week, but Nishikori still looks safe to qualify if he’s fit.
Marcel Granollers and Marcin Matkowski beat Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram in the doubles final.
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.
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.
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.
Semis 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.
Final Nadal d. Murray
Nadal should really want this title and I’m going with him in an upset.
Novak Djokovic dominated the China Open once more, as the world #1 didn’t drop more than 3 games in a set and thumped his rival Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 in the final. The Serbian superstar was simply untouchable on the week in the Chinese capital as he handled Simone Bolelli, Ze Zhang, John Isner, David Ferrer, never surrendering more than 5 games total in any match. Going into the final tournaments of the season, Djokovic will be a clear favorite everywhere he participates.
Rafael Nadal also has to be pleased with his week in Beijing, it wasn’t as smooth as Djokovic, but he posted a solid hard court effort with straight sets wins over Di Wu and Vasek Pospisil, a three set win over Jack Sock, and a straight set win over rival Fabio Fognini, as Fognini’s winning streak against Rafa was snapped. It’s been a rough season for the popular Spanish lefty, but perhaps he can stay in-form for the rest of his Fall tournaments.
Pospisil and Sock won the doubles title together over the veteran pairing of Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Stan Wawrinka was the top seed, and took advantage of that in Tokyo, as the draw opened up, and the Yonex sponsored Swiss posted a far better result than last seasons early round exit. Wawrinka beat his best friend Benoit Paire 6-2 6-4, as the Frenchman with a magical backhand continues his career year with yet another ATP final.
Stan was the man against Radek Stepanek in round 1, then he avenged his loss last year in Tokyo to Tatsuma Ito in three sets, sent American Austin Krajicek home 6-3 6-4, and scraped past Gilles Muller in two sets and a tiebreak to reach the final, surviving inconsistent play at times, as he was clutch when it mattered.
Paire upset the seeded Grigor Dimitrov with a third set breadstick, then got past Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios in three with his trademark effortless style. In the semifinals he stunned home hero Kei Nishikori, coming back from an opening set breadstick, and winning in three, after three previous third set wins. The win over Nishikori, with an injured ankle no less, is perhaps the biggest of Paire’s career, and if he can keep this up mentally, he certainly has the talent to reach the top 15 and be a threat in the bigger tournaments.
Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo beat Colombian’s Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal to go home with the doubles trophy.
2015 ATP Beijing and Tokyo Previews and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
ATP World Tour 500*
October 5-October 11, 2015
Prize Money: $2,700,510
*denotes joint ATP/WTA tournament
Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Tomas Berdych (5)
3: Rafael Nadal (7)
4: David Ferrer (8)
5: Milos Raonic (9)
6: John Isner (13)
7: David Goffin (15)
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (16)
Half of the top 10 and a good portion of the top 20 are in Beijing, in what is one of the strongest China Open fields ever.
Millman beat Robredo this year at Wimbledon, and the qualifier leads the h2h 2-0 against the Spaniard, including a hard court win in Sydney back in 2013. Robredo is in good form though as he reached the semifinals in Shenzen, and prior to that, the quarterfinals in St. Petersburg. Robredo looks to continue his good Fall season thus far with a win in this one, but Millman found form in qualifying and will have a chance in this one if Tommy ends up being fatigued.
(6)John Isner vs. Dominic Thiem
The big serving Isner lost to the ball striker Thiem on clay this year in Nice, and has a solid shot at avenging that loss on a much faster surface in Beijing, that should favor his aggressive style of play. Thiem is 4-2 in his last six matches and reached the semis in St. Petersburg though, while Isner has been known to struggle after the US Open historically. I’d expect Isner to win this, but it should be an entertaining encounter.
(7)David Goffin vs. Andreas Seppi
Two of the best ball strikers in the game will face off as Goffin continues to try to make a push for the top 10 before the year is out. The Belgian didn’t lose an opening round hard court match all Summer and he should be favored against Seppi, who is playing for the first time since winning a pair of US Open matches. Goffin is a heavy favorite, but Seppi will try to spoil his hopes.
Fognini is 3-2 in the h2h against Klizan and both players look to be in good form as Klizan’s power matches up against Fognini’s ball striking and shotmaking. The Italian is 5-1 in his last 6 matches and will try to stay focused, while Klizan is 10-3 in his last few tournaments and comes off of the semifinals in Metz. Given this is a hard court surface and Klizan is notably more consistent, I’ll go with the Slovak to pull of a minor upset in this one.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Ivo Karlovic
GGL is 3-1 in the h2h over Karlovic and has a shot at taking the title in Shenzen after reaching the final with a win over Marin Cilic. The Spanish veteran is 5-2 in his last seven matches, while Karlovic comes off of a quarterfinal loss in Malaysia to Nick Kyrgios. The big server is always dangerous on this surface and could take advantage of a fatigued GGL to pull off the upset.
Five time Beijing Champion Novak Djokovic, the world #1, will begin his quest for a fourth straight China Open title against qualifier Simone Bolelli. Bolelli is in good form but should lack the consistency to test Novak, from there look for Djokovic to crush qualifier Denis Istomin, who opens with Chinese wild card Ze Zhang, and then beat John Isner in the quarterfinals, presuming Isner beats Thiem and Robredo/Millman. Isner beat Robredo in Beijing last year at the same round of 16 stage. Djokovic should buzzsaw himself to the semis.
Kuala Lumpur champion David Ferrer continues his quest to secure a World Tour Finals top 8 berth, and opens with Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci in round 1. Ferrer improved as he went along in Malaysia and should win that one and a match against the winner of Aljaz Bedene/Lukas Rosol to reach the quarterfinals. Bedene is in relatively good form and leads Rosol 2-0 in the h2h. The Czech is struggling to some extent. Ferrer is almost certain to meet Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals, Raonic opens with a struggling Viktor Troicki, and then will serve it up against Rendy Lu/Adrian Mannarino. Mannarino retired in his last match, while Lu has also struggled to stay healthy. Ferrer is 4-0 against the St. Petersburg champion Raonic and thus I have him finding a way to reach the semifinals.
Shenzen finalist and possible champion Tomas Berdych should continue his winning streak and defeat dirtballer Pablo Cuevas in round 1, after that, he’ll also be a favorite against Garcia-Lopez/Karlovic in what could be a rematch of the Shenzen final. In he quarters, Goffin vs. Berdych is an intriguing matchup. Goffin has a difficult draw with Seppi and Fognini/Klizan in his first two matches. Berdych is 1-0 in the h2h against Goffin, but I’m bullish on the Belgian’s form right now, and I have him upsetting an inconsistent Berdych to reach the semifinals. Of note, Karlovic has a good record against Berdych, so if he gets through that could spell trouble.
Rafael Nadal should win his first couple of matches, even on a hard court surface in a down year for the Spanish lefty. Di Wu, a local wild card, is his first opponent, and then he’ll face Vasek Pospisil most likely in round 2, presuming Vasek defeats Victor Estrella. Pospisil comes off of the quarterfinals in Kuala Lumpur. Nadal should have a difficult quarterfinal against most likely Metz champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Tsonga opens with Andreas Haider-Maurer). After AHM, Tsonga should face off with young American Jack Sock in round 2. Sock, who opens with Teymuraz Gabashvili, is in good form but Tsonga has been in vintage form as of late and I’d favor him over both Sock and Nadal to reach the semifinals.
Klizan has to beat Fognini, and then would need to upset Goffin and Berdych, but he beat Nadal in Beijing last year and he has the talent to post those kind of results. The seeds should excel here, but Klizan is most likely to spoil the party.
Semis Djokovic d. Ferrer
Tsonga d. Goffin
Djokovic should cruise his way into the final no matter who he faces in the semis, Tsonga is 3-2 against Goffin and I feel his form is slightly better at the moment, giving him an edge.
Final Djokovic d. Tsonga
I’d be shocked if Novak didn’t win this title, he has an unblemished record in Beijing and no one is strong enough to stop him right now.
The Kuala Lumpur finalist Lopez is 2-0 in the h2h against Sousa and has been in excellent form over his last few tournaments. The serve and volleyer should be a favorite in this one, but the St. Petersburg finalist Sousa would love to spoil his good form. Sousa is a quality ball striker and will try to push Flopez back, I have Lopez winning this but it’s an interesting style contrast.
(5)Kevin Anderson vs. Gilles Muller
Anderson is 2-1 in the h2h against Muller, both big servers tend to play a large number of tiebreaks and this match is unlikely to be any different. Muller reached the quarterfinals in Metz and he’s had a solid season, but Anderson has stepped up big this year and the US Open quarterfinalist has a great chance to make a run in Tokyo. Muller is good, but Anderson is better, and the South African should demonstrate his superior abilities in this one.
(8)Grigor Dimitrov vs. Benoit Paire
Paire leads the h2h 2-1 against a struggling Dimitrov (2-2 in his last four matches), and if the Frenchman can find form and consistency, he could notch a quality upset in this one. He wasn’t healthy in St. Petersburg, and retired in his first match, but he reached the second week of the US Open and he certainly has all the shots to win this one. I still make Dimitrov a slight favorite, but this matchup has an upset written all over it.
(4)Richard Gasquet vs. Roberto Bautista Agut
Gasquet and RBA have a 1-1 h2h record, and RBA is 5-2 in his last tow tournaments. It hasn’t been a great season for the Spaniard, but he appears to be rounding into solid form. Gasquet, a US Open quarterfinalist, had a solid summer overall and looks to continue that in the Fall. He’s a better all around shotmaker than RBA and I’d consider him the favorite in this intriguing matchup.
A battle of unseeded players with talent on hard courts. Johnson has beaten Tomic twice this year, but both those matches were close and Bernie hasn’t lost an opening round match since his loss to Johnson in Washington. Stevie J is on a three match losing streak and this win would be a huge confidence boost for the American. Regardless of the h2h, I have Tomic as the favorite.
(2)Kei Nisihkori vs. Borna Coric
Coric acquired a seven match winning streak on clay after his opening round US Open loss, but now he’s going into the lions den that is Tokyo to face home favorite Kei Nishikori in front of what should be a sold out, and rowdy Japanese crowd. The young talent is in good form, but Nisihkori played well in Davis Cup play for team Japan and has his sights set on the title here in Tokyo. It’s not the easiest opening match to start with, but Nisihkori should get through.
Stan Wawrinka was injured in Metz, and his first round opponent Radek Stepanek leads the h2h against him 5-1. With that said, Wawrinka is a better player at this point in their careers and with Stepanek not in great form, Stan the man should still get out of the first round. Last year, Wawrinka fell to Tatsuma Ito in Tokyo, and he could get a rematch in round 2, if Ito defeats Yoshi Nishioka, another of the local Japanese wild cards. Nishioka is more talented than Ito and has a brighter future ahead, but their round 1 match is a bit of a tossup. A healthy Wawrinka should reach the quaterfinals, but Lopez could trouble him there. After Sousa, he’ll face Matt Ebden/Austin Krajicek in round 2, both of those players are qualifiers and Ebden plays well in Asia. Wawrinka leads the h2h with Lopez 4-2, but I favor Lopez form at the moment and thus I have him upsetting the #1 seed.
Metz finalist Gilles Simon opens with qualifier Mikhail Youzhny, and then should advance from that to face Jiri Vesely, presuming the Czech defeats Yasutaka Uchiyama. Vesely, a quarterfinalist in Shenzen, is in good form, but Simon’s consistency should likely help him reach the quarterfinals. Muller/Anderson has the edge to reach the semis though, in round 2 it should be Anderson vs Jeremy Chardy/Sam Groth. Groth lost in Kuala Lumpur round 1, and all four players in this section are big hitters. I have Anderson over Simon for a semifinal spot. Anderson leads the h2h with Simon 2-0.
Nishikori didn’t have much luck with his draw, even as the home favorite. After Coric, the two-time Tokyo champion has to face either Alex Dolgopolov or Sam Querrey, and then Shenzen semifinalist Marin Cilic most likely in the quarterfinals. Dolgopolov hasn’t been healthy recently, and Querrey is struggling, both are dangerous, and Cilic has a rivalry with Nishikori, along with bidding to reach the World Tour Finals. Cilic opens with qualifier Donald Young, then will face Tomic/Johnson in round 2. Young is in good form since the US Open. Given Nishikori leads the h2h with Cilic 6-3, and 4-1 since 2013, along with being at home, I still expect Kei to go into playstation mode and reach the semifinals at least.
Gasquet/RBA will face Albert Ramos or Nick Kyrgios in round 2, most likely the dangerous floater Kyrgios. The Kuala Lumpur semifinalist has already played Gasquet five times, and he trails the h2h 1-4, thus Gasquet should beat him for the fourth time this year to reach the quarterfinals. Dimitrov/Paire faces Marcos Baghdatis or Fernando Verdasco in round 2, Dimitrov is vulnerable and that makes his round 2 match intriguing, but I still see him getting past Baghdatis to reach the quarterfinals. Gasquet should then stomp him for a spot in the semis.
You can’t count the volatile but talented Australian to catch fire and serve and smash his way through Gasquet and potentially Dimitrov to reach the semifinals. There are other dark horses like Paire, Sousa, and Baghdatis/Verdasco but he has the highest peak potential right now.
Semis Anderson d. Lopez
Nishikori d. Gasquet
Anderson leads the h2h with a likely tired Lopez 3-0, Nishikori should roll at home.
Final Nishikori d. Anderson
Kev will have a chance, but Tokyo is Nishikori’s to lose, he peaks here as playing in Japan is like another slam for him.
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.
Djokovic Demolishes Berdych in Beijing; Nishikori Wins Second Consecutive Title in Tokyo Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Novak Djokovic remained undefeated at the China Open in Beijing, winning his fifth career title at the tournament in comprehensive fashion. He crushed an indifferent Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-2 in the final, and did not drop a set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Vasek Pospisil, Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray this week. Only Pospisil managed to notch more than five games in a single set, and his eight games total were the most any of Djokovic’s opponents got against this week. Djokovic dominated Beijing in every way possible and they might as well remain the center court after him at this point.
Berdych meanwhile found some form, he beat Feliciano Lopez, Viktor Troicki, John Isner and surprise semifinalist Martin Klizan, a qualifier, without dropping a set. Like Djokovic, he did not surrender more than seven games in any of his matches before the final in total, and not more than 4 in a single set. The Czech hasn’t had a great season, but he has now reached four ATP finals, three of them at the 500 level, and he drops to 1-3 in ATP finals this year.
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau won the doubles title over Julian Benneteau and Vasek Pospisil.
Kei Nishikori (Photo: Chris Levy @Tennis_Shots for TennisEastCoast.com)
Kei Nishikori made a sellout crowd in Tokyo very happy, winning his home tournament for the second time in his career with a clutch 7-6 4-6 6-4 victory over his rival Milos Raonic. Nishikori has now won two ATP titles in a row, and he has dominated the Asian swing thus far, after reaching the US Open final, he is truly making a push for the top five before the year ends.
Raonic served well in the final but Nishikori matched his serving and rallied far better than the Canadian, who appeared glued to the baseline, fearing Nishikori’s ability to snap passing shots past him if he were to approach the net. Nishikori also was able to coerce the Canadian into rushing his shots on key points in the match, and that was enough of the difference for him to win a first set tiebreak, and get a late break in the third to take it.
Interestingly, Raonic has a great record in Tokyo, he has made the final there the past three editions, and he lost to Nishikori in the 2012 final as well.
Nishikori has now won four titles this season, two of them coming at the 500 level, and he improves to 4-1 in ATP finals this year, along with 4-2 overall this year in tour level finals (he lost the US Open final of course). . He notched quality wins over Ivan Dodig, Donald Young and Jeremy Chardy this past week without dropping a set, then won a third set tiebreak over Benjamin Becker in the semis. The Dodig match in particular was a highlight reel for Nishikori, as he crushed the Croat, forcing him to race for the ball from corner to corner, and leaving him gasping for air after almost every rally.
Raonic continued his strong late season stretch, and his consistency in tournaments with strong fields this season, he beat Bernard Tomic, Jurgen Melzer, Denis Istomin and Gilles Simon without dropping a set. While all of his opponents challenged him temporarily, Raonic was simply too good on serve to truly feel threatened, giving his opponents little chance to break his serve.
Alternate doubles team Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Michal Przysiezny beat Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the doubles final.