Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen previews and predictions

The Asian swing will begin this week without two of its defending champions. Kei Nishikori (Kuala Lumpur) and Andy Murray (Shenzhen) lost earlier than expected at the U.S. Open before suiting up for Davis Cup duty, so they are still taking a break prior to their fall campaigns. Nonetheless, there is some star power at each event. David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov are among those on hand in Kuala Lumpur, while Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic are leading the way in Shenzhen.

Malaysian Open

Where: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Surface: Indoor hard
Prize Money: $937,835
Points: 250

Top seed: David Ferrer
2014 champion: Kei Nishikori (not playing)

Draw analysis: This is a good opportunity for Ferrer to get some more matches under his belt as he approaches the more important closing stretch featuring two Masters 1000 events (Shanghai and Paris) and the World Tour Finals (if he remains in the top eight). That being said, there are plenty of potential roadblocks along the way in Kuala Lumpur for the top-seeded Spaniard. Possible quarterfinal adversary Mikhail Kukushkin can catch fire at any time and Jeremy Chardy—who beat Ferrer at the U.S. Open—is in the adjacent section of the draw. Chardy’s quarter may feature a second-round showdown between Dimitrov and Joao Sousa.

The bottom half should be similarly up for grabs amongst a throng of big hitters. Feliciano Lopez, Ivo Karlovic, Nick Kyrgios, and Vasek Pospisil are the seeded contenders. Pospisil will begin against a qualifier before possibly facing the winner of an intriguing opener between Marcos Baghdatis and Nicolas Almagro. Karlovic and Kyrgios are on a collision course for the quarterfinals and nobody in their vicinity is likely to derail it unless Giraldo upsets Kyrgios in round one.

First-round upset alert: Alexander Zverev over (6) Jeremy Chardy. Chardy has to be feeling confident heading into the season’s home stretch, as his summer included a semifinal showing in Montreal and a fourth-round performance at the U.S. Open. Zverev, though, also fared well on American hard courts. This is the teenager’s second consecutive rough draw of the fall; he lost his opening match this past week in Metz to Fernando Verdasco in three sets. The winner of this Zverev-Chardy showdown could go for a while in Shenzhen.

Hot: Feliciano Lopez, Jeremy Chardy, Joao Sousa, Alexander Zverev

Cold: David Ferrer, Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios, Radek Stepanek, Jarkko Nieminen, Nicolas Almagro

Semifinal predictions: David Ferrer over Grigor Dimitrov and Feliciano Lopez over Ivo Karlovic

Final: Ferrer over Lopez

Shenzhen Open

Where: Shenzhen, China
Surface: Hard
Prize money: $607,940
Points: 250

Top seed: Tomas Berdych
2014 champion: Andy Murray (not playing)

Draw analysis: The Shenzhen field is alarmingly thin. Berdych is a top-10 player and Cilic is not far behind, but nobody else is ranked better than No. 27 (Tommy Robredo). The seeded contingent includes Aljaz Bedene and Victor Estrella Burgos, who are not in the top 50. With a glaring lack of depth in the draw, Berdych and Cilic are clear favorites to face each other the final. Should ether one falter, however, the door would be blown wide open. Among those performing well enough to capitalize are Adrian Mannarino, Lucas Pouille, and Ricardas Berankis.

Berdych’s path appears to be especially favorable at the top of the bracket. The world No. 6 should cruise through his opener before a possible all-Czech quarterfinal against Jiri Vesely. Potential semifinal adversaries for Berdych are Robredo, Berankis, and Simone Bollli. Cilic has a more interesting road to the final or title. It includes players who have showcased flashes of brilliance in the past but are wildly inconsistent. Ernests Gulbis would run into Cilic he wins his first-rounder, while Mikhail Youzhny may await in the last eight. The draw’s third quarter is home to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Lukas Rosol, and Denis Istomin.

First-round upset alert: Lucas Pouille over (5) Adrian Mannarino. Pouille advanced to the quarterfinals last week in St. Petersburg, getting the best of Berankis and Jerzy Janowicz in the process. The 21-year-old Frenchman has been in fine form this season and up to No. 75 in the world. This will mark the second career meeting between these two Frenchman and it cannot get much closer than their first showdown. Mannarino survived that one 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 early this season in the Auckland semifinals.

Hot: Marin Cilic, Ricardas Berankis, Lucas Pouille

Cold: Tomas Berdych, Mikhail Youzhny, Ernests Gulbis

Semifinal predictions: Tomas Berdych over Ricardas Berankis and Marin Cilic over Lucas Pouille

Final: Cilic over Berdych

7 Comments on Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen previews and predictions

  1. I’m gonna go with dimitrov over ferrer and Lopez over karlovic then dimitrov over Lopez. I think dimitrov needs to get through first couple matches then he will be set for match with ferrer who is still trying to regain some form and confidence so this is perfect time for dimitrov to get a big win again finally. I say Lopez will be his final opponent because he has been playing really well but if dimitrov gets to final I think he will want it more and will get the win over feli. Personally I’m rooting for either Pospisil Lopez dimitrov or ferrer to take the title.

  2. If kyrgios has his head on straight he can make a run to the final or even win it all but I don’t see him getting past Dr Ivo right now especially with his recent woes on and off the court. Also Pospisil could make a run if he can find a way past his first few matches he could definitely beat Lopez if he’s up to the task but I think baghdatis is gonna upset him in the second round just because he is a bit more consistent than Pospisil. The lack of match play for baghdatis gives Pospisil a good shot though but I’m still picking baghdatis for the upset even though I hope Pospisil wins.

  3. Actually I’m forgetting that almagro is baghdatis first round opponent. Definitely potential for an upset there. If almagro won that I think Pospisil would have much better chance to reach quarters against feli.

  4. In Shenzhen I’m going with berdych over berankis and cilic over pouille and then cilic over berdych so basically same predictions. Haider-Maurer or bolelli, Chung, and vesely should be able to make some good runs as well.

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