Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic Scheduled for Next Week's ATP Tournaments
Currently the action on the men's tour is pretty quiet as there is just one active tournament on tour. That event, currently underway in France (ATP Metz), does feature Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils however next week there will be two 250-level tournaments taking place in both Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Shenzhen, China. Those two tournaments combined will feature several key players on tour, including both Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.
Andy Murray will be in the Shenzhen draw following recent news of his acceptance of a wild card into the tournament. Murray, currently out of position to qualify for the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals, needs to win some matches down the stretch of the 2014 season if he is to make it to London. Although he has commonly played well on the Asian hard court swing, Murray is having a below par season. The main threats that will be in his way in the Shenzhen draw include David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet, and Tommy Robredo.
Over in Kuala Lumpur, tennis fans can expect to see Milos Raonic as the top seed in the event. The Canadian, currently ranked sixth in the world, will be joined in the draw by peripheral threats Ernests Gulbis, Leonardo Mayer, and Bernard Tomic. Although Gulbis made the French Open semis earlier this season and although both Mayer and Tomic have recent tour titles, the biggest threat to Raonic in Kuala Lumpur appears to be another player.
Kei Nishikori, Japan's top player, defeated Raonic en route to the US Open final a couple of weeks ago. While the fourth round Flushing Meadows contest between the two players was competitive, it will still likely be Nishikori that will be considered the favorite when odds for Kuala Lumpur are released.
As the likely favorite, Nishikori enters the 250-level tournament under some pressure. You can't make the US Open final and then enter a smaller tournament without fans and pundits alike expecting a title. That said, he has performed well under pressure before, as one of Nishikori’s career titles is from a home event in Tokyo, incidentally a tournament where he defeated Raonic in the championship match.
The draw for the Kuala Lumpur event has not yet been released, however tennis fans can expect Raonic to be top-seeded and Nishikori second-seeded. That would give both players a first round bye and put them both on a potential collision course for the final on September 28th.
The Shenzhen and Kuala Lumpur tournaments lead to larger events in both Tokyo and Beijing. Those events themselves lead to the Shanghai Masters, a 1000-series event that will take place in October as the culmination of the Asian hard court swing.
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