It’s getting down to the wire in both Tokyo for the men and in Beijing for the men and women. While the men’s event in Beijing has seen few surprises as top seeds Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic appear headed for another final clash, some upsets in the other tourneys are allowing for some intriguing matchups.
In Beijing, Svetlana Kuznetsova has been flying under the radar and playing well getting herself into the semis with a 6-3, 6-3 against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Sveta will now face Nadia Petrova who survived another tough match against Shuai Peng 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2.
As much as I would like to see Petrova get through and win the event, I feel like Sveta, who is 4-1 lifetime against her, will find a way to win this.
The other semi has Agnieszka Radwanska against the always feisty Marion Bartoli.
Over in Tokyo, the key match will be the semifinals between Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilifred Tsonga. This is a must win match, not only as they would be the favorite in the final against either Lleyton Hewitt and the revived Mikhail Youznhy, but a good showing would help Tsonga on Monfils close in one of the final spots for the ATP Finale in London.
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I was going to originally call this post “DelPo Pulls a “Safina”, but it would be unfair to compare Juan Martin Del Potro’s early round loss in the Japan Open to Safina’s current misery tour.
Citing jet leg and a mild stomach ailment (and probably a nice “hangover” from celebrating his U.S. Open), Del Potro lost to qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 6-4, 6-4.
Although the other top seeds including Gilles Simon and Lleyton Hewitt got through their matches, one has to feel for the tournament organizers after what has been almost a “nightmare” two weeks. First the ladies event is plagued with early round exits by the big names and then a final cut short by Jelena Jankovic’s injury. Now the men’s event, which suffered two withdrawals from top seeds Roger Federer and Andy Murray, loses its top seed early.
But this could be an opportunity for those players like Simon and Jo-Wilifred Tsonga still looking to qualify for the end of the year ATP Series Finale in London.
Lost in the Del Potro news was Andy Roddick’s rather flat showing in the opening round of the China Open. Roddick lost to Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 6-4.
So with all eyes now pointing to Shanghai to sort out the ATP Finale, who do you think will qualify?
With Roger Federer dropping out to change diapers in peace and Andy Murray away nursing his wrist (and probably his pride due to a so-so year) Juan Martin Del Potro became the top seed at the Rakuten Japan Open this week.
Del Potro lost in the final last year to defending champion Tomas Berdych who, let’s face it, hasn’t exactly changed much since then. Del Potro sure has though having won the U.S. Open and leaping into the top five.
With most of the top players dueling in Beijing, Del Potro could actually have an easy time winning this event. The other top seeds Jo-Wilifred Tsonga and Gilles Simon played in Thailand last week so could show up tired in the first few days, but Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas could make things interesting for the big man.
But watch out for the “worm” Radek Stepanek. He always plays well at the end of the year for some reason.
My next post will take a look at the Beijing Open for the men which sees the return of Andy Roddick who probably needs a tourney win more than anybody right now.
Saturday’s action at the U.S. Open will showcase lots of intriguing matchups. Here’s some quick thoughts on all of them.
Federer vs. Hewitt
Hewitt will put up a fight as always, but unless Federer drifts off mentally, this will go quickly for Fed.
Oudin vs. Sharapova
Riding high on her recent win over Dementieva, Oudin will now face more pressure and expectation as she takes on Sharapova who will look for the quick winner and not trade baseline rallies. Unless Sharapova’s serve goes awry, I like her in three.
Roddick vs. Isner
On paper Roddick looks the heavy favorite. But Isner has been on the big stage before and is hungry for a breakthrough. If Roddick returns well, this will go fast. If it’s a serving battle ended in tiebreaks, look for Roddick to finally prevail in five.
Haas vs. Verdasco
They haven’t played each other in a year so this could either be a five-set war or a lopsided three setter. I think Haas is hungry for another deep run at a major so I’ll make him a slight favorite.
Robin Soderling vs. Sam Querrey
Querrey is also looking for a breakthrough in a major and with help of the New York crowd, I think Querrey will win in four.
James Blake vs. Tommy Robredo
Although Blake is 4-2 against Robredo, this could go five sets, but again the New York night crowd will help Blake win.
Dinara Safina vs. Petra Kvitova
Too bad they didn’t make this the second match of the night to save everyone the two and half hours it will take Safina to win in three.
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Shahar Peer
“Sveta” has poked along into the third round. She’ll probably find a way to poke Peer enough for the win.
Novak Djokovic vs. Jesse Witten
The feel good story of the tourney for the American qualifier will come to a quick end at the hands of Djokovic.
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