Sunday, October 11, 2015

Beijing and Tokyo Review

Following the conclusion of the 500 level tournaments in Beijing and Tokyo, here are some thoughts before the tour turns to the Shanghai Masters 1000.

Djokovic was scary good:  That Djokovic won Beijing wasn't a surprise by any means.  He was the heavy favorite, and hadn't lost a match in Beijing since 1974.  But anytime you roll through Isner 6-2 6-2, Ferrer 6-2 6-3 and Nadal 6-2 6-2, it's hard not to be impressed.  The only question heading in was whether Djokovic was due for a mental letdown after not playing since his US Open win, and he sent a message that he's once again ready to dominate the end of the year.

Nadal took a step in the right direction:  In years past Nadal would have considered a tournament in which he got destroyed by Djokovic in the finals a failure.  Based on how his 2015 has gone, he can't be too disappointed given that he actually made a hard court final.  He had some decent if not spectacular wins along the way (Pospisil, Sock and his nemesis Fognini), and if nothing else it should help his confidence.  Nadal clearly has a ways to go before he's ready to start challenging for grand slams again, but it's not like the wheels are completely falling off either.  We'll soon find out if he can keep up his solid form against the tougher competition in Shanghai.

Tokyo was an important win for Wawrinka:  Wawrinka has developed a reputation as being the guy who always shows up in grand slams, but isn't always ready for the lower level events.  This is certainly better than the alternative, but given that there's only 4 slams during the year it's important to play your best tennis elsewhere as well.  Wawrinka's draw ended up being pretty tame, but it was still a big win for the world number four.  He simply did what he was supposed to do, which is something the top champions routinely pull off.

Lots of big names disappointed:  Several big name players blew good opportunities in Beijing and Tokyo, and have to be disappointed with their weeks.  Nishikori once again fell to Paire, and thus was unable to avenge his US Open loss in his home country.  But at least he had a better week than Gasquet, Berdych, Raonic, Tsonga and Dimitrov, who all failed to win a match.  There's no shortage of talent amongst this group, but the week to week consistency is clearly missing.  Gasquet needed a big week to put some pressure on Ferrer as he tries to make a run at the year end championships in London, but now it looks like Ferrer should have the eighth and final spot wrapped up.

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