It’s a tasty final four in Beijing tomorrow with Rafael Nadal taking on Grigor Dimitrov and then Alexander Zverev hooks up with Nick Kyrgios.
With the Top 3 seeds plus No. 8 Kyrgios, that’s a pretty darn good line-up considering all the injuries in the men’s game right now.
Earlier today, Nadal ran his win streak to 11 after withstanding 22 aces to deny John Isner 6-4, 7-6(0). Since saving those two matchpoints in his opener against Pouille, Nadal has been sharp and in command. And I expect no different tomorrow against the Bulgarian, though he Grigor will be the first Top 10 player, er, Top 15 player he’s faced on the streak (Isner was the first Top 20), and his first in the Top 10 since the French Open!
“He is a player that I really like, a good friend on the Tour,” said Nadal who leads Dimitrov 8-1. “He’s a great guy. I think Grigor is a player always with a great attitude, with a positive character. I’m happy for him that he’s having a good year. Tomorrow will be a tough one, for sure. He’s playing well. He had a good victory today. Let’s see. I going to try to play my best. I hope to be ready for it.”
Dimitrov made his mark winning Cincinnati, but then flamed out at the US Open to Andrey Rublev in straight sets. But this week he’s got two really good wins in his last two matches beating Juan Martin Del Potro and then today Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2.
You have to give Dimitrov a shot here — he beat Rafa in the Beijing QFs a year ago — but Rafa’s full of confidence.
In the second semi, Zverev tries to level the series with Kyrgios is this burgeoning rivalry. Plus, Kyrgios beat Mischa Zverev earlier in the week, so some added revenge for Alex, and I think he gets it.
After losses to Kyrgios at Indian Wells and Miami, the 20-year-old Zverev beat Kyrgios in Canada and now that he’s a Top 5 player with five titles on the year, I think that shows his form.
“It’s unpredictable. Obviously he’s a great player. He’s a big server. He’s someone that I know very well outside the court, as well,” Zverev said looking ahead. “We’ve played a few times this year, all on hard courts, all on the U.S. hard courts. In Miami he beat me, Indian Wells. In Montreal I was able to beat him.
“Hopefully it’s going to be another entertaining match. I think we’re both playing great tennis. Hopefully it’s going to be a high-standard semifinal.”
Tokyo offers half of the 3 million purse of a Beijing, and the product this weekend reflects as much. Top seed Marin Cilic is in the semifinals to face Adrian Mannarino while David Goffin gets Diego Schwartzman.
Clearly Cilic is the class of the quartet and he just pummeled Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-0.
“It was definitely the best match for me this week, everything was functioning well from the beginning to the end,” said Cilic. “I was serving exceptionally well, I played aggressively and was able to return his serve. To play like this is a big boost for my confidence, something I was focusing on.”
Both Cilic and Goffin are bidding to make the London finals. Cilic is going to get in but Goffin would pass Querrey for the 8th spot with a win on Saturday.
So while the names aren’t there in Tokyo, the motivation is just as great.
Tennis Channel should have coverage of both matches, live. Nadal is at 4:30am ET while Zverev is at a more reasonable 9am ET.
SATURDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2017
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
WTA –  T. Babos (HUN) / A. Hlavackova (CZE) vs  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)
Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA –  J. Ostapenko (LAT) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
Not Before 4:30 pm
ATP –  R. Nadal (ESP) vs  G. Dimitrov (BUL)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA –  P. Kvitova (CZE) vs C. Garcia (FRA)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP –  N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs  A. Zverev (GER)
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