One of two ATP 500 tournaments this week, the China Open in Beijing can boast the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Marat Safin as past winners. It is a joint tournament alongside the Women’s Premier Mandatory event and will be played on outdoor hard courts.
Two-times winner Novak Djokovic heads the field as top seed and will play a qualifier in his opening round. Potential opponents include Brian Baker, Donald Young, Matthew Ebden and Alex Bogomolov Jr. Djokovic will face either Carlos Berlocq or Marinko Matosevic in round two. Matosevic has a reasonable record on hard courts this year, having won half of his matches on the surface and should expect to defeat his Argentinian opponent. Berlocq has been feeling the strain of moving from hard courts, having won just once off them since Wimbledon at tour level. There are no suggestions that the injury causing Jurgen Melzer to retire in Kuala Lumpur will be long-lasting and he reappears this week taking on Pablo Andujar. Melzer has had a disappointed 2012 and has won just twice on outdoor hard courts this year. The unpredictable Alexandr Dolgopolov had a disappointing result in Kuala Lumpur, losing to Alejandro Falla. The sixth seed will need to do better as he takes on Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Garcia-Lopez boasts wins on this surface over Andy Murray and Juan Monaco on the year but also has unlikely defeats against Mikhail Kukushkin and more recently Leonardo Mayer.
Having made the final twice (2009,2011) here Marin Cilic will be hoping it will be third time lucky if he can get there this year. He opens with a good draw against a wildcard in Romania’s Marius Copil, a strange choice for an Asian tournament. Copil has played just twice on the main tour this year, winning one round in Bucharest before being knocked out by Lukasz Kubot. Florian Mayer picked up just his third hard court win of the season in Metz when he came from a set down to defeat James Blake. His opening opponent will be one of the other two men he has defeated on the surface this year in Fabio Fognini. Mayer is 2-0 against Fognini, including their Cincinnati encounter this year. The draw ensures that there will be a Chinese man in the second round with Zhang Ze facing Wu Di. Di has yet to play an ATP main draw match this year while Ze has just one victory – over Tobias Kamke in Halle. Di has a 2-4 record against his fellow countryman but has won the last two encounters, including a futures final in China this year. Fifth seed Richard Gasquet finishes off the top half of the draw and will play a qualifier.
Tommy Haas makes his first appearance since the heartbreaking defeat at the US Open where he held a two set lead against Ernests Gulbis before the Latvian came back to win. He faces one of the toughest unseeded players in the draw in Mikhail Youzhny who lost in the semi finals of St Petersburg to eventual winner Martin Klizan. Haas holds a 3-2 record (2-0 on hard) over Youzhny but the two have not played each other for four years. Kevin Anderson and Nikolay Davydenko both begin against qualifiers. Davydenko has the opportunity to avenge his recent loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round, assuming the Frenchman defeats the out-of-form Denis Istomin.
One of two Spain-USA ties in the draw, Fernando Verdasco will play Sam Querrey for the opportunity to play either Kuala Lumpur finalist Julien Benneteau or Andreas Seppi. After being out for a lengthy amount of time with injury, it was Querrey’s hard court form that pushed him back into the top 30. The pair have split the two matches they played but Querrey was most recently victorious at Indian Wells in 2011. The American has never had much success and has won just once in his three visits there including the 2008 Olympics. The other is an intriguing clash between the feisty Ryan Harrison and Feliciano Lopez. One of the youngest players in the top 100, Harrison has had an impressive enough year winning more than half of his matches. He troubled Juan Martin Del Potro recently at the US Open but is still capable of putting up disappointing results including defeats to Santiago Giraldo and more notably James Blake in Atlanta. Harrison is still learning though and is more than capable of surprising his more experienced opponent. A third USA-Spain is definitely possible in round two if second seed David Ferrer defeats Yen-Hsun Lu. Lu has already won a tournament in China this year in Shanghai challenger but the step up in class against the world no.5 should be too much for him. Ferrer exited weakly in the semi final of Kuala Lumpur but plenty will suggest he has his eyes on this tournament instead.
Finals Prediction – Novak Djokovic defeats Jo Wilfried Tsonga