Tokyo R1 previews and picks: Raonic vs. Tomic, Bautista Agut vs. Simon

Raonic 2Milos Raonic and Bernard Tomic are set for an intriguing first-rounder on Tuesday in Tokyo. Roberto Bautista Agut, meanwhile, is kicking off his campaign against Gilles Simon.

Bernard Tomic vs. (3) Milos Raonic

Raonic will be back in tournament action for the first time since losing a tough five-setter to Kei Nishikori at the U.S. Open when the Canadian takes the court at the Rakuten Japan Open on Tuesday. This will, however, be Raonic’s third match since he left New York. The world No. 8 rolled through a pair of Davis Cup playoff rubbers, getting the best of Colombia’s Alejandro Gonzalez and Santiago Giraldo. Raonic is 39-13 for his 2014 campaign and in contention for a World Tour Finals berth.

Up first for Tokyo’s third seed is Tomic, whom Raonic has never faced. Tomic is just 14-12 for what has been an abbreviated, injury-plagued campaign. The 67th-ranked Australian pulled out of the U.S. Open prior to the second round and he lost his Kuala Lumpur opener last week to Pierre-Hugues Herbert in a third-set tiebreaker. Tomic’s slice and relative junk-balls generally stay low to the ground and can frustrate big guys like Raonic, but the underdog is prone to the occasional loose service game that he absolutely cannot afford to donate to a huge server such as Raonic.

Pick: Raonic in 2

(6) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Gilles Simon

Bautista Agut and Simon will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers on Tuesday. Simon leads the head-to-head series 2-1, including 2-0 on hard courts. He prevailed 6-4, 6-2 at the 2012 Miami Masters and 6-3, 6-1 early last season in Marseille before Bautista Agut exacted revenge with a 6-3, 7-6(6) win last spring on the clay of Monte-Carlo. It has really been full steam ahead for the Spaniard ever since then, as he is up to No. 17 in the world. Bautista Agut is an awesome 37-19 for the year, but he is looking to bounce back from a Davis Cup loss to Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci that sent Spain to 2015 relegation.

Although not significantly past his prime at 29 years old, Simon appears to be going in the opposite direction. The Frenchman’s 2014 record stands at a dreadful 19-21, leaving him down at 37th in the world. The Frenchman played well at the U.S. Open, where he upset David Ferrer before losing to eventual champion Marin Cilic in a five-set fourth-rounder, but he is coming off a terrible 6-4, 6-2 loss to Ricardas Berankis in the Shenzhen opening round. In a matchup between two men with relatively similar styles, Bautista Agut has more firepower thanks to his forehand side and he is simply a far more confident player right now.

Pick: Bautista Agut in 2

5 Comments on Tokyo R1 previews and picks: Raonic vs. Tomic, Bautista Agut vs. Simon

  1. Where has all the hype gone over Stan after he got thw AO title. I don’t want to say he won it, because he knows he didn’t.

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