Burgeoning star Milos Raonic is back on the courts this week in Tokyo. The Canadian who had been sidelined with a bad hip won his first match since the injury on Tuesday, and tonight in the second round he’ll face Rafael Nadal.
Raonic first came into the tennis spotlight a year ago when he played Nadal in the exact same circumstance, the second round of Tokyo. Rafa won that match 6-4, 6-4 and I expect a similar outcome tonight. But I think eventually Raonic has the power and the game to turn that head-to-head in his favor.
“It felt really good. I’m happy to be back after a difficult summer with rehabilitation. To be back on a tennis court playing matches is an amazing feeling,” said Raonic after his first round win. “I’m really happy I found a way to win today. It was tough and I hope I can just keep getting better and better by the day.”
Added Nadal following his win over Go Soeda, “For me, the balls were a little heavy so I found it tricky to hit my forehand topspin. My next match against Raonic will be really tough.”
Last night, Andy Murray won his in three sets over Marcos Baghdatis. For someone who says the ATP calendar is unfair and too taxing, Murray continues to play tournaments he doesn’t need to. But at least he’s winning. The Bangkok champ has won 17 of his lat 18 matches. He’ll playing singles and doubles today.
Mardy Fish, who’s making a strong push to reach the London finals was also a winner last night over Ernests Gulbis. If Fish can put together just a few decent results this fall he should get in, and I think he does. He’ll play Bernard Tomic Friday in the quarterfinals with a potential showdown against Nadal in the semifinals.
And fresh off his first title in Kuala Lumpur, Janko Tipsarevic was stunned by Dmitry Tursunov.
In Beijing, Tomas Berdych and Fernando Verdasco had good wins. Ana Ivanovic upset Vera Zvonareva in the women’s field.
The slumping Verdasco is hopeful of turning his game around.
“Last year, I lost in three first rounds during the Asian swing, but my form is like in 2009,” Verdasco said. “I am trying to win all the points I can and I will give my best for sure. I want to be back in the Top 20 then push towards the Top 10.”
Today, Marin Cilic, JW Tsonga and Caroline Wozniacki headline.
THURSDAY TOKYO SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
[Q] M Ebden (AUS) vs  D Ferrer (ESP)
 R Nadal (ESP) vs M Raonic (CAN)
A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs  A Murray (GBR)
I Dodig (CRO) vs D Nalbandian (ARG)
A Murray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR) vs [WC] T Ito (JPN) / K Nishikori (JPN)
THURSDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
 A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs  V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs [WC] Z Zhang (CHN) – ATP
M Cilic (CRO) vs F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs K Kanepi (EST) – WTA
 S Peng (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN) vs  G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) – WTA
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