The ATP schedule eases considerably on Wednesday in this week’s tournaments in Japan and China, with just seven matches on the card across both events.
Tuesday’s play was a little disappointing, with Yen-Hsun Lu failing miserably against the injured veteran Nikolay Davydenko on his home court, while Florian Mayer was very competitive against Richard Gasquet, but was unable to take the second set tie break. There was better news from Di Wu though, who easily covered the handicap against John Isner and came within a few points of a straight sets win over the American.
Isner is one of those in action again today, along with Rafa Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt in Beijing and Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo Wilfried Tsonga in Tokyo.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Ivan Dodig
This intriguing clash begins at around 7am UK time on Wednesday morning in Tokyo and I like the chances of the Croatian to cause the Frenchman some problems here.
Since returning from injury, Tsonga has only played a handful of matches and he looked anything but impressive on his return in Metz a couple of weeks ago. He was comfortably beaten by Gilles Simon in conditions that should have suited him and he can’t be back to top form after such a long lay off.
Dodig has been very good this season and was very comfortable in his opening round win over Yuichi Sugita here. The conditions should suit both men, but I don’t make Tsonga anything like a 1.30 shot at this moment in time. Jo was unable to hit through Dodig on grass in their only previous meeting and he may well struggle to do so again, which leads me to the set handicap.
Beijing - Lleyton Hewitt vs Fabio Fognini
Two players whose attitudes to the game could scarcely be more different meet for the first time at around 5.30am UK time in Beijing and it may be worth taking a chance on the Italian as underdog here.
The conditions are slow enough for him to play his own game and Fogna should be able to outlast Rusty in what seems likely to be a long, drawn out affair. It’s always a substantial gamble siding with the Fog due to his propensity to quit whenever he feels like it, as he did against Michal Przysiezny in his most recent event in St Petersburg – and he was defending final points there too.
But when he is odds-against as he is today at around 2.50 in a very winnable match it’s often worth the risk. Hewitt was nothing special at all against Tommy Haas on Monday and the price looks to me to be based on nothing more than historic hard court records. Fognini can win this if he fancies it. The question is really whether he does or not and at 2.50, it’s worth a wager.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Janko Tipsarevic
I fancy the chances of Dolgo in this one as underdog against a fatigued and still struggling Tipsarevic, who will be only too glad to get out of Tokyo and get some rest if his constant moaning on Twitter is to be believed.
Tipsy made a meal of Victor Hanescu yesterday and was terrible last week in St Petersburg and I just get the feeling that Dolgo might be enjoying himself here this week, which gives him a great chance. Fitness is always an issue with the Ukrainian, but he should be much more rested than his opponent who took a lot out of himself in Davis Cup after New York.
It’s a quick turnaround for Tipsarevic after a two-and-a-half hour match and I with Dolgo impressing in a quick and easy opener I’d make him favourite here.
Elsewhere on today’s schedule, Milos Raonic looks to have an easy starter in Tokyo against Go Soeda, who has never won a match here in his home tournament and is currently 0-8 at the Japan Open. Milos made the final here last year and it’s hard to see him losing this, but 1.11 doesn’t exactly appeal.
Juan Martin Del Potro faces compatriot Carlos Berlocq for the first time since juniors and should ease through, while I would give Philipp Kohlschreiber a shot against Rafa in Beijing on his best form. The German wasn’t great against Albert Montanes though, but could still nick a set here, as he has done on each of the six times he’s faced Nadal on a hard court.
Back Dodig +1.5 sets to beat Tsonga at 1.83
Back Fognini to beat Hewitt at 2.50
Back Dolgopolov to beat Tipsarevic at 1.95