JAPAN OPEN: The ATP Tour remains in Asia next week as the players head from the Shanghai Masters to the Japan Open in Tokyo, where the ATP 500 event will be held from 16-22 October.
ATP TENNIS PREVIEW JAPAN OPEN: The ATP Tour remains in Asia next week as the players head from the Shanghai Masters to the Japan Open in Tokyo, where the ATP 500 event will be held from 16-22 October.
Taylor Fritz – Reigning Champion
Taylor Fritz returns to try and defend his Japan Open crown, having beaten compatriot Frances Tiafoe in a final that could have gone either way last year. Fritz prevailed 7-6 7-6 after two tie breaks, winning his fourth ATP Tour title in the process.
The big serving American won his fifth career title back in February of this year at Delray Beach on hard court. That’s his ideal surface, so it’s no surprise that he’s showed his best run of form towards the second half of the year, with a good run to the quarters of the US Open only ended by eventual winner Novak Djokovic. Prior to that he had picked up a second ATP Tour win of the year at the Atlanta Open in July.
Ranked world number eight, Fritz is likely to have his eye on this prize once again. When his serve is firing, he’s a tough man to stop and given the form he’s been in recently, he once again looks to have an outstanding chance this year.
Casper Ruud – Struggling for form
Since his run to this year’s French Open final, it has been tough going on the ATP Tour for Casper Ruud. He had excellent seasons in 2021 and 2022, winning five and three events respectively, but this year has yielded only one victory, at Estoril in April.
His French Open run is also likely to seem a long time ago, as he was dumped out of Wimbledon and the US Open at the round of 32. The Norwegian did reach the final at Bastad in Sweden after his flop in SW19 but hasn’t really threatened on the Tour since, which is underwhelming for a player ranked ninth in the world.
Having been shocked in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters, losing in three sets to 91st ranked Fabian Marozan, Ruud will be eager to bounce back in Tokyo. However, his record on hard courts is far from inspiring, having won 10 and lost 10 matches so far this year, compared to a 22-8 on his favoured clay.
Ruud is far too good a player to totally dismiss in Japan, but he does need to find a way back to his French Open form to make a real impact.
Hubert Hurkacz – Dangerous to rule out
It’s well known that Hubert Hurkacz has perhaps the best serve on Tour and when he finds his rhythm he’s a very dangerous opponent.
The world number 16 has had an excellent year, which has included winning his sixth career title at Marseille back in February. He had an excellent run to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, where for a moment he looked to have Novak Djokovic in trouble, only to go down by three sets to one. Another strong display in a big tournament was his run to the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters, where he put out big names such as Stefanos Tsitsipas along the way.
Hurkacz is still going in this week’s Shanghai Masters, making it through to the semi-finals, having dropped only two sets on the way and he now faces Sebastien Korda for a place in the final on Sunday. Victory in China would fill the Polish player with confidence ahead of Tokyo and as one of the players in the best form coming into the tournament, he could be one at likely bigger odds that can go well.