As the ATP World Tour’s best players head for China and Japan, we round up five things to look out for over the next fortnight…
Who’s going to qualify for London?
With Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer having already booked a place in London, the battle is on for the remaining five spots at the Nitto ATP Finals in November. While Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev are on the brink of securing their places, the other three berths are very much up for grabs. Dominic Thiem’s win in St. Petersburg last week boosts his chances, while Marin Cilic is in the hunt to make a fourth appearance at the season-finale event.
Miami champion John Isner knows a strong fortnight in Beijing and Shanghai will be key to his chances of qualification, while South Africa’s Kevin Anderson currently occupies the eighth spot in the race as he bids to reach the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. And could Kei Nishikori mount a late charge? The 29-year-old has momentum on his side after a dazzling run to the US Open semi-finals. There’s all to play for – and on Tennis TV you won’t miss a moment of the action!
The Lendl effect: What next for Zverev?
Many were lauding Alexander Zverev as New York’s heir apparent after his imperious Citi Open title defence, but an inspired display from fellow countryman Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round ripped up the script.
That was the first tournament of Zverev’s new partnership with Ivan Lendl. The Czech legend’s tutelage led Andy Murray to three Grand Slam titles and brought a new ruthlessness and aggressiveness to the Scot’s game. There were signs of similar improvement in the early rounds of the US Open for Zverev – against Nicholas Mahut he pushed up the court with much more enterprise, delivering 43 winners, 18 off his forehand side. When Lendl came into Murray’s camp, he had an almost instant impact – in their first month together Murray won Brisbane, reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the final of Doha. Will we see Lendl work his magic once more?
Can Federer defend his Shanghai crown?
Roger Federer played some spellbinding tennis at Flushing Meadows; who can forget that passing winner round the net post that left Nick Kyrgios agape? The 37-year-old’s last Masters 1000 crown came in Shanghai last year, where he dropped just one set in a magnificent, age-defying week of tennis. Can he recapture that form? And will that be enough against a fully-firing Novak Djokovic?
The Djokovic Dominance: Are we heading back to 2015?
Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the US Open…it’s been quite a few months for Novak Djokovic. He looked virtually unbeatable against Del Potro in the final of the US Open, stretching and sliding around the court as if he had never left. Now looking like the unstoppable competitor that won six Masters 1000 titles and three Grand Slams in 2015 – and having never failed to reach the Shanghai semi-finals – Djokovic will take some stopping…
How far can Stan go?
Speaking of renaissances, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka has written himself back into the headlines of late. After a 6-11 win-loss record in his first six months returning from injury, things picked up in Toronto and Cincinnati where two epic battles with Nadal and Federer made for instant classics. His upturn of form continued last week in St. Petersburg, where he notched a mightily impressive win over Karen Khachanov. The Swiss powerhouse has ominously suggested that things are beginning to come together – although that backhand certainly looks back to its venomous best already.
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