This tennis week is seeing two major ATP 500 events in Asia. Most of the world’s top players have either chosen to play in the China Open at Beijing or the Rakuten Japan Open at Tokyo. The notable absentees are the world no.1 Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Argentina’s comeback man Juan Martin del Potro is another player staying away from the two ATP events. The China Open is being held at the 11-court Green Tennis Center, purposely built for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The main court has recently added a retractable roof. It is called Diamond Court because its shape resembles a diamond. The Japan Open in Tokyo is the longest-running World Tour tennis tournament in Asia. It began in 1972 and is currently being staged in Ariake Colosseum, a sprawling arena with 48 tennis courts. It also has a retractable roof for one of the main courts. At Beijing, top seeded Andy Murray is slated to meet no.2 seed Rafael Nadal in the final. The two stalwarts produced forceful performances in their opening rounds and look in fine fettle. In Tokyo, local hero Kei Nishikori is seeded no.1 and Frenchman Gael Monfils is no.2. However, Nishikori had a first-round scare against lucky-loser Donald Young of USA while Monfils easily sailed through to the second round.
In China Open, no.1 seed Andy Murray of GBR convincingly defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-2, 7-5 in his opening round match. This was Murray’s 8th consecutive win over the Italian. Murray broke Seppi twice in each set but faced some heat in the second set. Murray’s second round opponent will be Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov, who defeated his qualifier compatriot Konstantin in his first round match. Rafael Nadal was even more dominant in his 6-1, 6-1 victory over veteran Italian Paolo Lorenzi. But the best first round performance at Beijing came from Germany’s nextgen star Alexander Zverev. The 19-year old defeated Austria’s no.4 seeded Dominic Thiem 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 and came close to breaking into top 10 by the year-end. This was the sixth straight win for Zverev on ATP World Tour and he has now improved his ATP ranking to no.24 beginning the year as world no.83. Zverev has also recorded his fourth victory against Top-10 players. Besides Thiem, he shocked Roger Federer in the Gerry Weber Open and then also scored back-to-back wins over Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka on his way to his first ATP World Tour title at St. Petersburg. Zverev’s second-round opponent at Beijing is another rising star world no.25 Jack Sock of USA. Other impressive performance at Beijing came from GBR’s Kyle Edmund, who is already through to the quarterfinal with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over no.7 seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Joining Edmund in the last eight is Spain’s no.5 seeded David Ferrer, who defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4.
In Japan Open at Tokyo, top-seeded Kei Nishikori was pushed hard by USA’s Donald Young, who entered the tournament as a lucky loser. The Japanese, who won at Tokyo in 2012 and 2014 lost the first set to the American lefthander but bounced back in style to finish at 4-6, 6-2, 6-2. Nishikori’s second-round opponent is Portuguese Joao Sousa. No.2 seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils eased into the second round by defeating Japanese wild-card Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1 to set up an all-French second round with Gilles Simon, a 7-5, 4-6, 6-0 winner over German Phillip Kohschreiber. Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia reached the quarterfinals at Tokyo with a hard-fought 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 victory over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Australian 6th seed Nick Kyrgios triumphed over USA’s Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-2. Other notable first-round winners in Rakuten Japan open were; no.5 seeded Belgian David Goffin, who defeated Japan’s rising star Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5, 6-2; Ivo Karlovic showered 32 aces in defeated Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 and Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic defeated Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-2, 6-4.
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