It’s set to be another busy Tuesday on the ATP World Tour, with 17 matches on the schedule at the China Open and Japan Open.
Andreas Haider-Maurer got us off to a good start on Monday when he took Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to a tie break in set one of their round one clash and those that trusted AHM further reaped great reward, as the Austrian won.
I said yesterday that Tsonga has been poor, despite winning Metz, and he can’t really blame his loss on a late MTO, rather he was not up to it again, as he admitted after the match.
But there was major disappointment from Martin Klizan, who didn’t show against Fabio Fognini, and Milos Raonic, who was awful against Viktor Troicki.
Klizan said afterwards: “It has been such an extreme smog in Beijing today that half an hour after the beginning of the match I started to cough uncontrollably after every point and I had to vomit after the match.”
He went on: “There is such an extreme smog in this city, that due to my health, which should be a priority of every tournament organisation, unfortunately, I will have to leave out this tournament from my calendar for the rest of my tennis career."
That explains that then.
We start at 03:00 UK time on Tuesday in Tokyo and hopefully in Beijing when they start at 05:30 UK time it won’t be as smoggy as Monday and the players will be able to breathe.
Novak Djokovic never seems to find it a problem here in Beijing, where he’s going for his 25th straight win at the China Open against Simone Bolelli, who he hasn’t faced since 2009.
Bolelli could nick a set on his best form, but he’s played 21 sets since the US Open to Novak’s zero and having beaten the very much lesser Djokovic brother in qualies big brother Djokovic should prevail.
I’d expect that one to go over the 18.5 games though, while Rafa Nadal should have a more comfortable day against Di Wu, and the Spaniard should have no problems winning this one in two sets.
Injury issues are plentiful as usual this time of the season and Adrian Mannarino doesn’t seem in the best of shape after pulling out of the Shenzhen quarters with a hip injury he says he’s had on and off since Melbourne.
Victor Estrella Burgos retired with a shoulder/back injury last week, which explains his price against Vasek Pospisil, but I wouldn’t trust the Canadian either, after he cramped on several occasions in Kuala Lumpur.
David Ferrer vs Thomaz Bellucci
Starting with the long shot then and Bellucci should certainly be the fresher player when he faces Ferrer in this 11:30 UK time start in Beijing.
It’ll be their seventh career meeting, of which Ferrer has won six, but Bellucci has won the opening set twice in their three most recent clashes and the 3.35 about him doing so again stands a decent chance.
Indeed, both of their career clashes on hard courts have gone to a tie break in the opener, and Bellucci will surely come out swinging here, as it’s his only way of beating the Spaniard.
Ferrer hasn’t had much time to get used to conditions in Beijing after only finishing in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday night and he could be expected to begin a little slowly here.
Alternative long shots who appear viable on Tuesday include Radek Stepanek, who could take advantage of any below par showing from Stan Wawrinka, who hasn’t played since a withdrawal from Metz a fortnight ago with an ankle injury.
Stan says he: ‘thinks he’s 100 percent,’ but Steps has beaten him five times out of six and if the ageing Czech has anything left in the tank he might make it tough for the top seed.
Mikhail Youzhny has a good record against Gilles Simon and even beat Gillou this summer after a woeful spell of results for the Russian and he could also be one for the shortlist for underdog backers.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Benoit Paire
Given the comparative form of this pair over recent months it’s very hard indeed to back Dimitrov as a 1.52 chance against a well-rested and hopefully more up for it Paire than we saw in St Petersburg.
You always take a chance when you hand your cash over on the moody Frenchman, but as a 2.50 shot against this version of Dimitrov it’s worth the risk in this 07:00 UK time start in Tokyo.
I saw Dimitrov play two dire matches in Kuala Lumpur last week and his desperately poor loss to Benjamin Becker was the first time in his career that he’d lost as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite at main level.
It was also only the second time in two years that he’d lost to a player ranked outside the top-70, but it was no fluke for Becker, and Dimitrov was fortunate to have beaten Joao Sousa the previous round in KL.
Paire was ‘ill’ in St Petersburg, but he probably just needed some rest and now that he’s had a fortnight off he should be fit and ready to test Dimitrov, having beaten Kei Nishikori and Tommy Robredo in his most recent event on outdoor hard – the US Open.
The Frenchman’s 3-5 record against the top-20 in 2015 compares favourably with Dimitrov’s 2-7 mark and Paire has won two of his three meetings with Dimitrov – one at the US Open in 2012.
Dimitrov has a losing 9-12 record in Asia and on debut here in Tokyo he looks much too short in his current slump.
There may also be some value on Austin Krajicek against Matt Ebden and Marcos Baghdatis against Fernando Verdasco as underdogs and the over 2.5 sets in Roberto Bautista-Agut and Richard Gasquet at odds-against is also one to consider.
Nick Kyrgios vs Albert Ramos
I was at the Estoril event in April when Kyrgios just about edged past Ramos and I think that was the match when NK should have been defaulted after numerous warnings.
He should have no such problems in his 05:00 UK time clash with Ramos in Tokyo after performing well in Kuala Lumpur, falling in the semis in two tie breaks to Feli Lopez.
Ramos has played one match on a hard court since March and in Asia the Spaniard has lost six of his last seven matches in Asia, with the exception being a 2012 Kuala Lumpur win over doubles specialist Julian Knowle.
On his only prior visit to the Ariake Coliseum he lost 6-0, 6-2 to Lukas Lacko and he’s been playing at Challenger level with no great success on clay for the last two months (US Open apart).
Kyrgios has been in Asia for a while now and conditions should suit him in Tokyo, so it’s hard to see the Aussie not winning this one.
He’s yet to lose in five matches as a 1.06 to 1.20 chance and although it may not be easy he should be the one to go through to round two.
Sure thing: Back Kyrgios to beat Ramos at 1.19
Value bet: Back Paire to beat Dimitrov at 2.50
Long shot: Back Bellucci to win set one at 3.35