As the ATP season draws nearer to its climax, we look back at the Asian Swing and ahead to what’s in store in the next month or so.
Dominic, Djokovic and Daniil enjoy terrific time in Asia
There were wins for Pablo Carreno Busta and Alex de Minaur at the Chengdu Open and Zhuhai Championships respectively as the Asian Swing got underway with two ATP 250 events last month. They were followed swiftly by two ATP 500s in Beijing and Tokyo in preparation for the Shanghai Masters in the second week of October.
Dominic Thiem pulled no stops as he surged to the title at the China Open. The 26 year old swept aside Richard Gasquet, Zhang Zhizhen and Andy Murray all in straight sets on his way to a semi-final clash with fourth seed Karen Khachanov. There, he faced a tough test, losing the first set 6-2 but eventually prevailed following a tiebreak victory in the second and a clutch 7-5 win in the third.
The final pitted the Austrian against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece who had overcome the likes of John Isner and Alexander Zverev en route. Tsitsipas claimed the first set 6-3 but Thiem fought back to claim the trophy by winning the next two, 6-4, 6-1.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Novak Djokovic strolled to the title. In fact, the World No. 1 didn’t drop a single set on his way to claiming the Japan Open crown. Victories over Alexei Popyrin, Go Soeda, Lucas Pouille and David Goffin set up the Serbian’s final showdown with Australia’s John Millman.
A dominant display by Djokovic saw the 32 year old come away with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win, meaning he would head to Shanghai full of confidence.
However, it was Daniil Medvedev who would enjoy lifting his second Masters 1000 title in just two months after he had also claimed the Cincinnati Open trophy in August. His 6-4, 6-1 victory over Zverev in Shanghai was made possible thanks to a stellar run to the final.
Cameron Norrie, Vasek Pospisil, Fabio Fognini and Tsitsipas were all put to the sword by the beaten US Open finalist during the week-long event.
Paris next in the Masters 1000 series
The stars of the ATP Tour returned to Europe this week and many are competing in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, the Stockholm Open in Sweden or the European Open in Belgium. Once they’re out of the way, attention turns to Austria and Switzerland as the ATP 500 events in Vienna and Basel take place side by side.
After that, the Tour returns to Paris – the site of the final Masters 1000 tournament of the season. Khachanov will be hoping to defend his title having won the event in dramatic circumstances last year. The unseeded Russian produced a stunning 7-5, 6-4 victory over Novak Djokovic in the final to claim his first Masters title in 2018.
A semi-final appearance at the Chengdu Open represented a strong start to the Asian Swing by Denis Shapovalov. The 20-year-old was denied a place in his first ATP final by eventual tournament champion Carreno Busta following a 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
Shapovalov was then knocked out at the round-of-16 stage of the Japan Open by Goffin having defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 6-4 in his opening match. A 6-4, 6-2 victory over the USA’s Frances Tiafoe ensured the Canadian tasted first round success in Shanghai before being beaten 6-3, 6-3 by Djokovic in round two.
Félix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his time in the far east with a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 loss to Joao Sousa in the round of 16 of the Chengdu Open. He made it past the first round of the China Open thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos Vinolas before coming up short against Zverev in a 6-3, 6-1 defeat.
In Shanghai, the Montrealer saw off the challenge of Alexander Bublik, who retired in the second set, before falling to a tight loss to old junior rival Tsitsipas, who served him a 7-6(3), 7-6(3) defeat.
Vasek Pospisil, meanwhile, followed difficult showings in Chengdu and China with a terrific run to the round of 16 at the Shanghai Masters. The 29 year old qualified following victories over Adrian Mannarino and Marcel Granollers before defeating 14th seed Diego Schwartzman and Sousa.
Unfortunately for the British Columbia native, a clash with eventual champion Medvedev proved a step too far as he fell to a 7-6(7), 7-5 loss to the Russian. Despite that, though, the Canadian will be delighted with his display in China’s second-most populous city.
(Feature photo: Shanghai Masters)