The Key Things To Watch In Beijing & Tokyo
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour
The ATP Tour travels to the capital cities of China and Japan for the second week of the Asian Swing. The China Open and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships offer players the opportunity to earn up to 500 ATP Rankings points in the ATP Race To London and the ATP Race To Milan.
Five Top 10 stars — including Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev — headline in Beijing, while World No. 1 Novak Djokovic prepares for his tournament debut in Tokyo alongside Borna Coric and David Goffin.
Beijing Talking Points
Andy Murray joins defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili as the former titlists in the China Open field. Murray, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov in the 2016 Beijing final, claimed his second tour-level singles victory of the year – and his first since the first week of the year in Brisbane – by defeating Tennys Sandgren in Zhuhai last week. That avenged a loss to the American in Murray’s prior ATP Tour singles match, at Winston-Salem in August. Murray lost in the second round in Zhuhai to eventual champion Alex de Minaur.
No. 1 seed Dominic Thiem is seeking his first victory in a single-elimination main draw since a third-round win against Marin Cilic at the Coupe Rogers in August. Since that match, Thiem is 2-4 at tour-level, with the two wins coming at team events: Davis Cup group play and Laver Cup.
Three of the Top 5 players in the ATP Race To Milan are in the Beijing main draw: Stefanos Tsitsipas (No. 1), Felix Auger-Aliassime (No. 2), and Frances Tiafoe (No. 5). Tsitsipas has already qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals and currently occupies sixth position in the ATP Race To London, which determines the eight qualifiers for the Nitto ATP Finals.
2016 runner-up Dimitrov jumped from No. 78 to No. 25 in the ATP Rankings after his run to the US Open semi-finals last month. The Bulgarian would claim his 300th career tour-level win if he defeats Andrey Rublev in the first round on Monday.
Tokyo Talking Points
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is making his first appearance at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships this year. Djokovic is aiming to win a title in a tournament debut for the 10th time in his career.
David Goffin is the lone former champion in the draw. He has made the final in both of his previous appearances, falling to Nick Kyrgios in the 2016 championship match before defeating Adrian Mannarino for the title in 2017. The Belgian is 9-1 overall in Tokyo.
#NextGenATP Australian Alex de Minaur comes into Tokyo fresh from winning his third singles title of the year in Zhuhai on Sunday. The 20-year-old lost his first two ATP Tour singles finals last year, but has gone 3-0 in finals this season, also hoisting trophies in Atlanta and in his hometown of Sydney.
For the second week in a row, #NextGenATP contender Miomir Kecmanovic will face a fellow 20-year-old in the first round of an ATP Tour event. Last week in Zhuhai, Kecmanovic advanced past Casper Ruud; this week, the Serb will meet Denis Shapovalov in the opening round. Shapovalov is currently No. 4 in the ATP Race To Milan, while Kecmanovic is No. 7. (De Minaur is No. 3 and Ruud is No. 6).
Ben McLachlan is the two-time defending doubles champion in Tokyo. The 27-year-old won his first ATP Tour doubles title in 2017 alongside Yasutaka Uchiyama and then captured the crown again last year with Jan-Lennard Struff. McLachlan pairs with Luke Bambridge this year, as he goes for the hat trick with three different partners.