This week the WTA continues to stay one step ahead of the ATP. While the men gather for their most important Asian event, in Shanghai, the women scatter across the globe after finishing their most important event on that continent, in Beijing.
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The Week in Preview: Shanghai, Linz, Osaka, Tianjin
Looking ahead to a men's Masters in China, and three small WTA ev
Published Oct 06, 2014
$4,195,895; 1000 points
Draw is here
Novak Djokovic appears to be the man to beat again. He’s the two-time defending champion in Shanghai, and he comes in after winning his fifth straight title in Beijing, where he returned to the form that has made him No. 1. Djokovic has now won 25 straight matches in Asia, his tennis home away from home. Who stands a chance of breaking that streak?
David Ferrer, the second-highest seed in this quarter, is an unlikely candidate. The Slightly Littler Beast has gone out in the first round of his last two events, and has lost nine straight matches to Djokovic.
Andy Murray, who is seeded way down at No. 11, would seem to have a better shot. In his post-U.S. Open push to qualify for the season-ender in London—he’s currently ninth, 200 points behind Milos Raonic for the last spot—Murray has won a tournament and reached a semi. Unfortunately, he lost that semi, in pretty convincing fashion, to Djokovic. And Shanghai will be his third event in three weeks.
How about talented 21-year-old Dominic Thiem? That’s who Djokovic will face first. They've never played each other, but as Thiem will learn, there must be a first time for everything.
The final piece in the Big 4 puzzle rejoins the tour this week, in the form of Roger Federer. He hasn’t been seen since he led Switzerland to a win in the Davis Cup semifinals nearly a month ago. Federer, runner-up here in 2010, will open against either Leonardo Mayer or Chinese wild card Di Wu.
The top seed in the other half of this section is Kei Nishikori. There’s no question he’s playing well, having followed up his U.S. Open runner-up finish with titles the last two weeks in Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo. And there’s no question he has the desire to keep going, driven by the goal of reaching his first year-end championship. But will his body co-operate? Traditionally with Nishikori, the answer would be no, but we may not be dealing with your father’s Knish anymore. He’ll start against Jack Sock.
Finally, there’s 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who also harbors hopes for London—he’s currently 11th in the race, but is just 300 points behind Raonic at No. 8. Dimitrov has won his first match and will face the winner of Benneteau and Zhang next. He could play Nishikori in the following round.
Second-round match to watch: Nishikori vs. Sock
Welcome to the big time, Marin Cilic: Now people are going to pay attention to your first-round defeats. The U.S. Open champ lost one on Monday to his countryman Ivo Karlovic in a third-set tiebreaker. That’s another thing Chila will have to get used to: As tough as Dr. Ace is to play, guys at the top don’t lose to him these days.
The defeat won’t help Cilic in his London campaign, and it could open the door for the player just below him in the race, Tomas Berdych, to make some headway. Last week the Czech briefly shook himself out of his recent slump to reach the final in Beijing, though you wonder if the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Djokovic in that match could plunge him right back into another. Berdych will start against Richard Gasquet.
Also here: No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka. He went out in his opener in Tokyo, but is still comfortably positioned to qualify for London.
With three of the Big 4, as well as Nishikori and Dimitrov, safely in the other half, it would seem that Rafael Nadal has been given a reprieve from the draw gods. But apparently he has run afoul of the stomach gods—according to on-site reports, Nadal had to skip his practice session on Monday because he has a virus.
Looking at his quarter might not make Nadal feel much better. Nearby is John Isner, never anyone’s idea of a fun man to play. On the other side is Raonic, who currently holds the last spot in the London race, and who reached the final this weekend in Tokyo. In between them is Ernests Gulbis, who has given Rafa fits in the past.
Semifinals: Djokovic d. Dimitrov; Wawrinka d. Raonic
Final: Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Deco-Turf on Wood
Draw is here
Little Linz has just $250,000 to offer in prize money, and with all eight spots in Singapore already set, there’s not much intrigue to be had, either. But the tournament has coaxed some popular players to Upper Austria: Its top four seeds are Genie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic, Dominika Cibulkova, and Andrea Petkovic.
Draw is here
Sam Stosur is the top seed in Osaka, though from an American point of of view, the No. 2, Madison Keys, is the more intriguing figure. She has a chance to win her second title, and gather some momentum heading into 2015.
Draw is here
Jelena Jankovic is always playing somewhere, and this week it’s Tianjin, where she’s the No. 1 seed. No. 2 is China’s new standard-bearer, Shuai Peng. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the third seed, Belinda Bencic, teen breakout star of the U.S. Open.
Qualifier confusion: Ukraine’s answer to the Williams sisters was the battling Bondarenkos, Alona and Kateryna. Now the country has given us an answer to the Bryan brothers: The Kichenoks, 22-year-old twin sisters Nadiia and Lyudmyla. Apparently, they do everything together, and that includes surviving the qualies this week.