Things could have been so different in Beijing last week. Lucas Pouille had a couple of match points in his opening round encounter against Rafa if only he could have that forehand back again! As has been the case so many times in the past, Rafa didn’t need a second invitation! The Spaniard went from strength to strength, having taken out Karen Khachanov in the second round he really impressed me against John Isner and then Grigor Dimitrov to make the final. Both players gave this a real go and threw the kitchen sink at Nadal, but he had the answers. I really like the serve and volley play he uses at key moments right now! In the final, he beat Nick Kyrgios 6/2 6/1 having broken the Ozzy’s spirit early on. Kyrgios can be pleased with his efforts though, having shown some fight to come from a set down against Mischa Zverev and also taking out second seed Sascha Zverev 6/3 7/5 in the semi’s! Both Pouille and Dimitrov will take a lot of confidence out of last week with their performances, especially the Frenchman who showed signs of getting back to his best having been out of sorts of late! For Nadal, it is his first title in Beijing since 2005 and he heads to Shanghai in search of his first masters series title at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center!
David Goffin won a second title in as many weeks, backing up his victory in Shenzhen with a victory in Tokyo. The Belgian finally looks to have put his injury worries behind him, he has been struggling since the French Open, where he picked up a nasty ankle injury! Qualifier Matthew Ebden gave him a scare in the second round but after Richard Gasquet blew set points in the quarter’s, Goffin then beat the ever-improving Diego Schwartzman and then Adrian Mannarino in the final 6/3 7/5. Mannarino had beaten top seed Marin Cilic in the semi-final, having come from a set down. The Frenchman had Cilic in knots and his creative, consistent game proved too much, bageling the Croat in the decider! Second seed Dominic Thiem’s dip in form continued after losing to American Steve Johnson in the opener. Milos Raonic played his first event since Montreal, sadly his bad luck continued as he had to retire with a calf injury early on in his second round encounter with Yuichi Sugita!
Isn’t Caroline Garcia finishing the season with a bang! I didn’t think that she had anything left in the tank after her victory in Wuhan but like David Goffin, she won back to back titles. This was very impressive in Beijing! The quarter-final victory over Elina Svitolina summed up the confidence she is taking into matches with her right now! The Ukranian always seemed to be edging this one but Garcia just wouldn’t go away, eventually winning a final set breaker 8-6! She then disposed of Petra Kvitova who had previously impressed in beating Wozniacki and then put on a power display against Simon Halep in the final. Not only is she serving well but she is also playing the big points exceptionally well. She now puts herself in pole position for the last berth at the End of Year Championship by moving ahead of Jo Konta, who was hammered 6/1 6/2 in her opener against Monica Niculescu! Konta’s form has dipped massively since Wimbledon, only winning two matches, both at Cincinnati! Despite losing in the final this was a positive week for Halep, who served well and gave Sharapova, Kasatkina and Ostapenko a good going over en route to the final! She actually reversed her 6/2 6/1 loss to Kasatkina in Wuhan. Top seed Garbine Muguruza retired with a virus against Barbora Strycova in the first round and fourth seed Karolina Pliskova fell in the third round to Romanian Sorana Cirstea.
Andy Del Potro