Top Seeds Triumph in Tokyo and Beijing
The dominance displayed by those who have enjoyed an extended stay at the top of men’s tennis continued their success in the year’s Asian hard-court swing, with the top seeds in both Beijing and Tokyo coming through as champions.
Novak Djokovic swept through the field in Tokyo, cruising to his first title in Japan without dropping a set. After thrashing both Lucas Pouille and David Goffin, Djokovic defeated John Millman 6-3 6-2 in a very straightforward final. Although this may not be the biggest title Djokovic has claimed in his illustrious career, it means that the World Number One is back on form after a shoulder injury which prematurely ended his US Open campaign this year. This title also means that Djokovic gains ground on Nadal in the race for the position of year-end number one. Djokovic has the chance to pull closer to Nadal next week in Shanghai, where the Spaniard will not be playing due to injury.
Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem enjoyed a far less straightforward victory, edging past youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6 6-4 6-1 in a thrilling final to claim his 4th ATP title of 2019. Thiem had previously never won more than one match in any tournament in Asia and was on a 6-match losing streak on the continent but managed to dig deep on several occasions to come through some extremely tough opponents. Karen Khachanov served for the match at 6-2 5-3 in the semi-final against Thiem before the Austrian came surging back to win. Thiem also had to fight past a resilient Andy Murray in the quarter-finals, who looks to be edging closer to the level that we’re all hoping he can once more produce.
By reaching the final this week, Thiem also ensured his participation at the ATP World Tour Finals in November, becoming the 5th player to qualify after Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Medvedev. Now only 3 places remain, with Tsitsipas, Bautista-Agut and Zverev currently occupying the last 3 spots. However, the race is far from over, with several players being only a few hundred points behind Zverev in 8th position. With Zverev and Tsitsipas both displaying changeable form this year, it is impossible to say who will qualify.
Written by Emre Saridogan