Nikoloz Basilashvili continued his outstanding form this season with a win in Beijing. It puts the Georgian in the top 20 race to London. Who would have thought that at the start of the season? Jan De Witt (coach) is taking the praise but its one hell of an effort this year from Nikoloz. He beat Juan Martin Del Potro (top seed) in the final, the Argentine suffering from a fever. Delpo probably would have pulled out of his semi against Fabio Fognini had the Italian not beat him to it, citing an ankle injury. The only set Basilashvili dropped all week was against the bang out of form Sock, who he could easily have lost to. There were straight sets wins over Verdasco, Jaziri (took out Sascha Zverev) and Edmund after that before disposing of Delpo in two.
Caro Wozniacki won the Ladies event in Beijing, it was her first tournament title since Eastbourne at the end of June. She said that she played herself into the week and by the end, her game was where she wanted it to be. She beat Anastasija Sevastova in the final and now holds a 6-0 record against the Latvian. Sevastova had taken out an injured Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals, the US Open Champion was carrying a back injury, which has been diagnosed due to a lot of tennis, simple as that. No surprises that Sevastova’s variation of shot selection and mixture of pace caused havoc once again, it takes a bit more than that against Wozniacki though. Both Qiang Wang and Shuai Zhang represented the home players superbly. Wang backed up her previous week with wins over Pliskova and Sabalenka (she also double bageled the out of sort Ostapenko previous to this). She had little left in the tank in her semi against Woz though. Zhang took out both Mertens and Angie Kerber before Osaka edged her out 7/5 in the decider of their last eight encounter. Top seed Simona Halep dropped the opening set 6/1 to Ons Jabeur before retiring. She found out after that she has a herniated disk but it doesn’t sound too bad.
In Tokyo, there was the mandatory win for the qualifier, as has happened so often this season. This time it was Daniil Medvedev, who dropped his only set of the tournament in his final round of qualifying against Egor Gerasimov. The Russian put in a superb all-round performance but was particularly outstanding on serve. He ousted Schwartzman, Klizan, Raonic and Shapovalov on his way to a 6/2 6/4 win over Kei Nishikori in the final. I read that Nishikori has now lost his last eight ATP Finals. Kei had also been in good form all week playing some really good stuff, looking very good in his semi-final win over Gasquet, having already beat Stefanos Tsitsipas. Gasquet had also looked decent before running into Nishikori, playing intelligent matches against both Kyrgios and Kevin Anderson. Marin Cilic was the Number One seed but he lost from a break up in the third against Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener. It is becoming a little bit of a habit for Cilic to lose from a break lead in deciders/ winning positions.
On the betting front, I had an ok week on the outrights. This is not just about me having the bragging rights here but also telling you the problems I encountered. I had winners on the outrights in Basilashvili and Medvedev with places on Sevastova and Nishikori in (each-way) cross treble’s. If only every week was so easy with 50/1 and 33/1 winners included. It wasn’t so easy to get William Hills to payout but they knew they had too. It was totally legit and they just seemed to be very slow in settling it, as if they wanted to play up. Their initial excuse was that the bet was a conflict of interest. It certainly was for me as I am effectively betting against myself by perming players up. If you put five players in your bet from a tournament, they can’t all win. It is what is known in the industry as a bit of a wagons bet. A quick Ibas threat from me (which seemed absurd that i might have go to those lengths) and they paid up finally after four conversations with them. Unlike my normal bets, I place these for a bit of fun with smaller stakes. You would have thought I’d have been able to buy a house with the returns the way they were acting. Sadly not. They initially settled the bet as a loser by the way. Jokers.
Andy Del Potro