Both the ATP and WTA are in the middle of the Asian swing this week in both Tokyo for the men and Beijing which is a dual event for both tours. And after the excitement of Caroline Wozniacki reaching No. 1 died down, things have gone back to normal which for some players isn’t exactly welcome news. By normal, I’m referring to Andy Roddick and Andy Murray both coming up a bit short again when it appeared they were heading to the semifinals. Down in Beijing, Novak Djokovic continued his winning form since New York despite having to fight not only his opponent but smog. Yes, smog.
In Tokyo at the Rakuten Japan Open, Gael Monfils and Andy Roddick played one of the better matches I’ve seen since New York with Monfils finally winning 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. Roddick fought off three match points serving at 0-40 at 4-5 in the final set when a linesman’s errant yell threw off Roddick’s concentration earlier. Roddick survived that game with some big serving eventually forcing things to a tiebreak. But despite being up 5-2 in the breaker, and with the match on his racquet at 5-4, Roddick couldn’t seem to muster enough big serves when he needed allowing Monfils to finally win on his fourth match point with a down the line winning forehand pass. Despite flashes of intensity, especially on his forehand side, Roddick again played mostly a passive match which if you’re a Roddick fan doesn’t bode well for his chances in Shanghai. But still, he looked a lot better than he did all summer on the hard courts. But all credit to Monfils who kept the showboating down and hung in the extra long rallies.
Down in Beijing, Andy Murray lost 6-3, 6-2 to veteran Ivan Ljubicic. The lackluster performance from the Scot has already amped up calls for him to find a new coach, stat. But who will it be considering most of the top coaches on tour are already taken? Some have suggested he grab Roger Rasheed, Monfils’s coach, but I doubt that’s going to happen. Maybe Murray will try his luck with Adidas development team, sans Darren Cahill?
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic got through a tough first set to cruise to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Gilles Simon. Djokovic later complained about dealing with the smog that continues to plague conditions in Beijing. It’s been so bad at times this week, stadium lights have been turned on in the middle of the day to help players see the ball. Djokovic will hope the smog clears in time for him to see the lightening fast serves of John Isner in the semifinals as Isner took out Nikolay Davydenko 7-6, 6-4.