After a couple of low-key weeks in the tennis world, tennis fans will be treated to two ATP 500 events this week in the ATP Tokyo and the ATP Beijing and, despite the disappointment at the absence of world number one Novak Djokovic, many of the world’s top players are playing this week.
The ATP Tokyo
The ATP Tokyo, also known as the Japan Open, is an ATP World 500 Series event played on outdoor hardcourts. Wawrinka, Del Potro and Andy Murray have all claimed the title in the last 5 years but, as all three of those players are absent this year, the door may well be open for local hero Kei Nishikori to take the title for a third time after winning it in 2012 and 2014.
Nishikori is seeded one and, as he’s beaten likely quarter-final opponent David Goffin on the only occasion they’ve previously met, he should have little difficulty making it to the semi-finals. At that stage it’s highly likely he’ll meet old adversary Marin Cilic, who holds advantages over possible last-16 opponent Benoit Paire, and probable quarter-final opponent Feliciano Lopez. However, Nishikori holds a 7-4 head-to-head advantage over Cilic, including winning 4 of their last 5 hardcourt matches.
Meanwhile, in the third-quarter, there may well be an upset as last week’s winner Tomas Berdych has lost his last two matches to the improving Nick Kyrgios. His semi-final opponent may well be 2010 Runner-up Gael Monfils who has won his last two against likely quarter-final opponent Ivo Karlovic. The outcome of a Monfils/Kyrgios semi-final is harder to predict as Monfils won their only match on clay, but Kyrgios has improved since.
However, Nishikori will relish playing either of those players in the final as he holds a 3-0 head-to-record against both players.
Nishikori @ 11/4 (Coral)
The ATP Beijing, also known as the China Open, is another ATP World 500 Series event played on outdoor hardcourts. The tournament has been dominated in recent years by Novak Djokovic, but the only previous champion in attendance is 2005 winner Rafa Nadal, who was also runner-up in 2013 and 2015.
Andy Murray is seeded one, and should cruise into the final from the top-half of the draw. Meanwhile, Last week’s finalist Gasquet may be able to overcome Raonic in the third-quarter, with the Canadian having struggled for form since being injured in the US Open. The fourth-quarter looks a good chance for Nadal, but he may have to overcome his US Open conqueror Pouille, who is in fine form having won ATP Metz. Pouille also beat Gasquet in their only match this year, and looks the each-way value. However, he may struggle to beat Murray if he makes the final.
Pouille Each-Way @ 33/1 (Paddy Power) ½ odds 2 places