Tennis Elbow: The Land of the Rising Sun

October 8, 2012 · Print This Article

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon looks at the Asian trifecta of the past week.

Each year, the ATP World Tour moves away from the Western cold after the US Open and sets its sights on Asia. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t good tennis to be played, only that it’s tougher to watch for Western folks. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so to speak.

In Beijing for the China Open, Novak Djokovic put behind him a tough US Open final loss, and reacquainted himself with winning as he defeated the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final by the score of 7-6 (4) and 6-2. In capturing his third career title in Beijing, Djokovic served notice that he’s still possibly the best player on Tour. Though he hasn’t quite maintained this season his level of play from the 2011 season–it would have been impossible for him to do so, really–Djokovic can still beat anyone he’s matched up against. And truthfully, had he been a bit luckier at times, his 2012 season could have been just as memorable as his previous one. Expect him to conclude the season playing strong tennis.

In Tokyo, Kei Nishikori defeated Canadian Milos Raonic by the score of 7-6 (5), 3-6 and 6-0 in front of a partisan crowd to become the first Japanese player to win the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

Nishikori did what most hadn’t been able to do previously in Tokyo–put a racket on Raonic’s serve. He did and, for the most part, good things happened. The rise of the 22-year-old continues, as he’s now captured the biggest title of his career (i.e. his previous title had been at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in 2008). That Nishikori can play shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s now ranked No. 17, and he’s enjoyed success previously–notably, he was one of the few to beat Djokovic last season. Nishikori doesn’t have many weaknesses, and he’s a solid player. He likely won’t wait four more years for his next title this time.

The Tokyo title could have been great for the 21-year-old Canadian, but he couldn’t win this last match. Alas Raonic will take solace in the fact that he came this close to a breakthrough, only one match after seemingly having enjoyed his breakthrough–a semifinal win over Andy Murray. And yet, this is on par with the previous two seasons for Raonic.

Though his career has been on a steady rise, he hasn’t enjoyed as much success and as quickly as many might have expected when he first reached the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open. To be fair, a hip injury derailed him at the Wimbledon Championships last season, just when he looked ready to take off. Since his recovery, it’s been a long, steady, and methodical rise to No. 15 in the world. This, really, is reminiscent of his on-court behaviour–steady, calm and in control. Surely at some point Raonic will enjoy a massive win on Tour, right? Just as well, surely at some point he will show emotion—I think?

In other news, Roger Federer did not die. A person (i.e. at least, it’s a good guess that it was a person indeed), known only as “Blue Cat Polytheistic Religion Founder 07,” had left a death threat on the Chinese message board The note said that he would “assassinate Federer for the purpose of tennis extermination.”

Apparently, the threat was serious enough that authorities beefed up security at the Shanghai Open. It’s further proof that the Mayans might have been on to something when they predicted 2012 as the year the Earth would die.

But today, King Roger is still standing. The Mayans were probably off.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG

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2 Responses to “Tennis Elbow: The Land of the Rising Sun”

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