Beijing and Tokyo previews and predictions

The Asian swing begins this week, and it begins with a bang. Most of the noise will be made in Beijing, where Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are making their first tournament appearances since the U.S. Open final—won by Nadal in four sets. The top two players are joined in an incredibly strong 500-point field by fellow World Tour Finals hopefuls David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, and Stanislas Wawrinka. In Tokyo, meanwhile, Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga headline the action as the top two seeds.

China Open

Where: Beijing, China
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $2,205,000
Points: 500

Top seed: Novak Djokovic
Defending champion: Novak Djokovic

Draw analysis: Djokovic and and Wawrinka have already played two memorable matches against each other this season, with the world No. 1 surviving five-setters at both the Australian Open and U.S. Open. They are on course for another collision in the China Open quarterfinals. Djokovic could first face Fernando Verdasco in the second round while Wawrinka may run into Mikhail Youzhny prior to the last eight. Potential semifinal opponents for either Djokovic or Wawrinka include Ferrer and Gasquet. Those two also squared off in a U.S. Open thriller; Gasquet prevailed 6-3 in the fifth to reach the semifinals. Ferrer opens with Vasek Pospisil before a possible date with hard-luck Kuala Lumpur runner-up Julien Benneteau.

At the bottom of the bracket, Nadal should coast against Santiago Giraldo before another likely U.S. Open rematch. Philipp Kohlschreiber, who took a set off Nadal in the fourth round, could get another shot at the Spaniard in the Beijing second round. Nadal’s section also includes Tommy Haas, Lleyton Hewitt, and Tommy Robredo. Berdych, Sunday’s runner-up in Bangkok, and John Isner find themselves in the weakest quarter of the draw. Isner, though, rarely plays well outside of the United States. Grigor Dimitrov can be expected to give the 6’10’’ American a tough test in the round of 16.

First-round upset alert: (WC) Lleyton Hewitt over (7) Tommy Haas. Haas is 41-18 for the season, but he cooled off just a bit this summer—culminating with a third-round U.S. Open loss to Youzhny. Hewitt also lost to Youzhny in New York, but it was a five-set thriller in the round of 16. Hewitt, who leads the head-to-head series against Haas 6-4 overall and 2-1 on hard courts, has won four of his last five matches. Although the Aussie does not have a ton of firepower, he loves using opponents’ pace and he has always been a force on relatively fast surfaces.

Hot: Rafael Nadal, Richard Gasquet, Stanislas Wawrinka, John Isner, Tommy Robredo, Mikhail Youzhny

Cold: Lukas Rosol, Sam Querrey, Nikolay Davydenko, Pablo Andujar

Quarterfinal predictions: Novak Djokovic over Stanislas Wawrinka, David Ferrer over Richard Gasquet, Tomas Berdych over Grigor Dimitrov, and Rafael Nadal over Tommy Robredo

Semifinals: Djokovic over Ferrer and Nadal over Berdych

Final: Nadal over Djokovic

Rakuten Japan Open

Where: Tokyo, Japan
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $1,280,565
Points: 500

Top seed: Juan Martin Del Potro
Defending champion: Kei Nishikori

Draw analysis: Gael Monfils is playing his way into a position that will have him seeded for almost all tournaments, but he isn’t there yet. The result is a matchup that can’t get any bigger when it comes to first rounds. Monfils and Tsonga, at the very bottom of the bracket, will do battle in all-French affair on Monday in Tokyo. It may not get any easier for the winner, either. Ivan Dodig is a possible second-round opponent and Metz champion Gilles Simon will likely await in the quarterfinals. Bangkok champion Milos Raonic has a favorable draw that should pave the way to a quarterfinal clash against Kevin Anderson or Dmitry Tursunov.

Like Tsonga, Del Potro also has a blockbuster first-rounder on his hands. The top-seeded Argentine will open against Marcos Baghdatis, who is finally emerging from a slump that started way back in February. The rest of Del Potro’s draw is about as good as it gets. He nearest seed is an out-of-form Janko Tipsarevic and the seeds in the second section of the bracket are Kei Nishikori and Nicolas Almagro. Neither man is playing well right now, although Nishikori is the defending champion of his hometown event. The door could be open for Feliciano Lopez, Jurgen Melzer, or Ryan Harrison to capitalize on an opportunity at the expense of Nishikori and Almagro.

First-round upset alert: Gael Monfils over (2) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Both Frenchmen have more than their fair share of flair, but they have also endured more than their fair share of knee problems. Tsonga’s may be worse at the moment. The world No. 8 has played only one event since a second-round retirement at Wimbledon and although he reached the Bangkok final, Simon took care of him 6-4, 6-3. Monfils finished runner-up in Winston-Salem this summer then played well at the U.S. Open, destroying Adrian Ungur before losing to Isner in a dramatic four-setter. He should have the edge right now on anything other than grass or a lightning-fast indoor hard court.

Hot: Milos Raonic, Gilles Simon, Jurgen Melzer, Dmitry Tursunov

Cold: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nicolas Almagro, Janko Tipsarevic, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Horacio Zeballos

Quarterfinal predictions: Juan Martin Del Potro over Alexandr Dolgopolov, Feliciano Lopez over Ryan Harrison, Kevin Anderson over Milos Raonic, and Gilles Simon over Ivan Dodig

Semifinals: Del Potro over Lopez and Simon over Anderson

Final: Simon over Del Potro

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

15 Comments on Beijing and Tokyo previews and predictions

  1. I found a Chinese live stream (poor quality) earlier for the Kohlbi match but now there is nothing for the Haas match at all. It’s not like it is competing against many other sports for air time at this time of day.

    OTOH You can watch the women at Beijing to your hearts content.

    #SexualDiscrimination

  2. It’s about time they introduced a separate Active Veterans’ Tour for the over 30s.

    No wonder it’s so hard for the younger players to climb the ladder these days.

  3. I have the Tennis Channel, but not one of the ATP Beijing matches will be broadcast live and even on replay, nothing until the round of 16. Only the WTA final will be a live broadcast. Guess I’ll be going to sportlemon.tv for all the live broadcasts. That’s my go-to streaming site. Rafa’s match is scheduled for approximately 5 pm local time (he plays right after Novak, same court). That’ll be 2 am for me. I’ll be watching.

      • augusta08 September 30, 2013 at 3:17

        I only use Google Translate for short articles and sentences otherwise it’s too laborious and it does not always make sense.

    • Thanks for the information 😉
      Great article on Rafa. I wish I could translate it for you but my English is not there yet, sorry. But it’s about the possibility of Rafa returning for the top of the ranking in the exactly same place where he was crowned #1 for the first time, at the Olympic Games in 2008.

  4. ritb: You are right. Google Translate is far from infallible and it’s doubly difficult to decipher the gobbledegook it can produce if you’re not familiar with the subject matter.

    I often work as sub-editor for translators working from French to English who have resorted to using it. I now insist on having the original French text before getting to work.

    #BetterThanNothing

  5. And then takes it to a TB in the 2nd. But for his aces Isner would be on his way to the airport.

    Would love to be able to see this Di Wu in action. He must have some return of serve to hold Isner at bay like that.

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