Sunday, 9 October 2016

Konta and Dimitrov shine in Beijing

The Asian leg of the tennis year has continued this week following victories last week in China by Petra Kvitova in Wuhan, Tomas Berdych in Shenzhen and Karen Khachanov in Chengdu.

Beijing has been hosting the China Open, a Premier WTA event and an ATP 500 tournament held concurrently, while several top male players have gathered in Tokyo for the ATP 500 Japan Open.

Fine performances were contributed in the China Open by unseeded Aussie Daria Gavrilova, including victories over 12th seed Timea Bacsinszky and top 25 player Caroline Garcia.  Gavrilova's run ended in the quarter finals thanks to Elina Svitolina, herself enjoying a brilliant tournament.
Svitolina, the conqueror of Serena Williams in Rio, ousted the current world number one Angie Kerber, in the third round in Beijing, and her quarter final success earned a semi final against third seed Aga Radwanska.

Aga found herself the highest remaining seed following the exits of both Kerber and second seed Garbine Muguruza, the latter at the hands of in form Petra Kvitova, also in the third round.  Petra couldn't maintain her run of success, but it wasn't for lack of trying, defeated in possibly the match of the tournament.
Madison Keys, the eighth seed, finally won the quarter final after almost two and three quarter hours 6-3 6-7 (2) 7-6 (5).  Kvitova will regret the break point opportunities not taken - she converted just 4 of the 18 created, whilst Keys broke the Czech serve 5 times from 10 chances.

The Czech Republic lost its other top chance one round earlier, with fifth seed Karolina Pliskova falling to 11th seed Johanna Konta in another three setter decided by a tie break.
Konta joined Keys in the final four following victory over local hope, unseeded Shuai Zhang.  Zhang had upset fourth seed Simona Halep to reach the quarter finals.

Both semi finals began with a tie breaker - Aga Radwanska won hers against Elina Svitolina, 7 points to 3, and was too accomplished in set two, returning the Ukranian serve in exemplary fashion, taking out the match in straight sets 7-6 (3) 6-3.

Johanna Konta dominated the first set tie break against Madison Keys 7 points to 1, but the American fought back immediately, levelling at a set all with a second set 6-4.  Konta had chances - converting only one of eight break points.
The three setter, totally worthy of its semi final status, was closely fought to the end, and the deciding stanza landed in favour of the steadier 11th seed Johanna Konta 6-4.

Whatever the result of the final, and it is an even money bet in my opinion, Konta is set to enter the world's top ten, a tremendous accomplishment this year.

A strong men's field was assembled in Beijing, including four of the world's top ten, and ten of the top twenty, led by Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal.
The story of the tournament has been Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated Steve Johnson and 6th seed Lucas Pouille, both in three sets, before the big upset - a straight sets dismissal of second seed Rafa Nadal in the quarter final.  The Bulgarian savaged Nadal's first serve, especially in the opening set, and he amassed several break point chances throughout the match.

Andy Murray hasn't dropped a set in reaching the final - his one real test came in the quarter final when in the first set, Kyle Edmund took him to a tie break which stretched to 11-9 before the top seed prevailed.  Edmund enjoyed a solid event, knocking out 7th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.

Murray will play Dimitrov in the final - he dispatched David Ferrer in one semi while third seed Milos Raonic presented Grigor with a walkover in the other.

Top seed for the Japan Open was appropriately Kei Nishikori, but sadly he only lasted into the second round, where he surrendered due to injury.  
Third seed and a tournament winner last week, Tomas Berdych, left in the opening round, courtesy of Gilles Muller, leaving second seed Gael Monfils as the top ranked player left in the draw.

Eighth seed Feliciano Lopez also lost in round one, unseeded Australian James Duckworth the victor - all other seeds reached the quarter finals as expected and the favourites in each of those matches won out, becoming the final four.

Fifth seed David Goffin outgunned fourth seed Marin Cilic in their semi final, winning a huge percentage of points whenever his first serve found the spot.
Also winning in straight sets, and as a result meeting Goffin in the final in Tokyo, was Nick Kyrgios.  

The sixth seed thrilled the crowd with his shot making, against one of the best shot makers on tour, Gael Monfils.
Kyrgios took advantage of his solitary break point in the opening set, and that provided momentum in a close match where his serve probably gave him the edge in the final analysis.

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