Despite the absence of six-time champion Novak Djokovic and defending champion Andy Murray, the China Open draw this year still features an incredibly strong field. Four of the top ten have made the trip, as have another four ranked in the top twenty. With the Asian swing culminating in Shanghai next week, who will make the ideal preparation by winning in Beijing? In fact, the winner in Beijing went on to win in Shanghai in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. But will there be a repeat this year?
World #1 Rafael Nadal, who is looking to build an even greater lead in the rankings over his rival Roger Federer, is the top seed. Nadal has captured two Majors, two Masters titles and two ATP 500s this season already. But unsurprisingly, the great Spaniard is desperate to get his hands on even more silverware before the end of 2017. He has never won the tournament in its current form, although he did win it back in 2005 when it was a 250 event. The best he has done here since is reach two finals, but lost heavily to Djokovic in both. He will be happy no doubt then with the Serb’s absence from China, and will be feeling confident going into his first tournament since the US Open.
20-year-old Alexander Zverev, who impressed with his performances at the Laver Cup two weeks ago, is seeded 2nd. Zverev has won five titles this year alone and is almost guaranteed to qualify for London. The German lost early in Shenzhen last week but will be looking to go deeper in the capital. Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov who was the finalist last year and Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta who reached the semifinals at the US Open are the 3rd and 4th seeds respectively. Another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, is seeded 5th. America’s John Isner, 2011 champion Tomas Berdych and Nick Kyrgios, who performed exceptionally well at the Laver Cup, complete the rest of the seeds.
Other players potentially worth watching include former US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro, who was awarded a wild card after entering late. St Petersburg Open winner and Shenzhen semifinalist Damir Dzumhur has entered the draw on a special exemption. The Bosnian could not play in the qualifiers due to his semifinal run at Shenzhen in the same week. Fabio Fognini, Andrey Rublev, Lucas Pouille and Jack Sock could also turn in good performances this week.
First round match to watch
The match between third seed Dimitrov and Dzumhur should be interesting. Bosnian #1 Dzumhur is on a 29-8 winning run since June 19th and has steamrolled many top opponents recently. However, Dimitrov can take inspiration from his title wins this year in Brisbane, Sofia and Cincinnati to go far in the draw at Beijing. Both players cover a lot of court from the baseline and this match could go the distance. How Dzumhur’s defensive skills match up against Dimitrov’s attacking array will likely be fascinating.
Kyrgios won the title in Tokyo last year at this time and judging from his Laver Cup exploits, he is in great form. The Australian can be relentlessly accurate with his serve when he needs it most. His forehand is also a dangerous weapon, and if his fitness holds up he will be a real contender in Beijing. Kyrgios to win a fourth career title in Beijing.
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