Coming off a big win over Juan Martin Del Potro, Grigor Dimitrov will be back in action when he takes the court for a quarterfinal date with Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday in Beijing. Nick Kyrgios and Steve Darcis are also part of the schedule.
(3) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (5) Roberto Bautista Agut
Dimitrov and Bautista Agut will be clashing for the third time in their careers and for the first time since 2014 when they battle for a place in the China Open semifinals on Friday. The head-to-head series stands at one victory apiece, as Bautista Agut cruised 6-4, 6-2 at this same Beijing event in 2013 before Dimitrov got the job done one season later at the Australian Open via a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 decision.
Both players are in stellar form this season. Dimitrov owns a 37-15 record and the biggest title of his career in Cincinnati is the main reason why he registers at No. 8 in the world and has himself in position for a berth in the World Tour Finals. The Bulgarian has advanced this week by taking out Damir Dzumhur and Juan Martin Del Potro, surrendering one set to Dzumhur in the process. Bautista Agut is sporting an awesome 45-17 record, but as usual he has done most his damage at smaller tournaments and that is why he is still five spots behind Dimitrov in the rankings. The Spaniard, who is coming off a semifinal showing in St. Petersburg, reached the Beijing quarters thanks to defeats of Ze Zhang and Aljaz Bedene. A steep step up in competition will likely be just a little too much for Bautista Agut.
Pick: Dimitrov in 3
(8) Nick Kyrgios vs. (Q) Steve Darcis
Kyrgios and Darcis will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers and for the second time in less than a month when they meet again on Friday. They just faced each other during Davis Cup semifinal action the clay courts of Belgium, where Kyrgios survived 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2 before the Belgians ultimately got the job done as team and booked their spot in the championship tie against France. Kyrgios then participated in the Laver Cup, where he played inspired tennis but lost what proved to be the deciding match against Roger Federer. The 19th-ranked Australian is right back in gear this week, with mostly routine victories over Nikoloz Basilashvili and Mischa Zverev.
Darcis, who had to qualify just to get into the main draw, has advanced to the last eight by beating Pablo Carreno Busta and Dusan Lajovic in straight sets. The world No. 73 is 19-16 at the ATP level this year and coming off a third-set tiebreaker loss to Alexander Zverev in the Shenzhen second round. As well as Darcis is playing, this situation does not set up as well for him as did the Davis Cup encounter. After all, the underdog is always at his best in the team competition and clay also aided his chances against Kyrgios. Moreover, a ton of matches in a short amount of time does not often bode well for Darcis’ frequently fragile physical state.
Pick: Kyrgios in 2