Written by Michael Gillett (@michaelBG1212)
There were two major upsets this weekend in Tokyo, as two unseeded players were able to overcome two of tennis’s most creditable.
At the Rakuten Japan Open qualifier, Danill Medvedev cruised to a comfortable final win against world number 12 Kei Nishikori.
Russian Medvedev has now won three ATP titles, after winning the crown at the Sydney 250 event earlier this year, and in August winning the Winston-Salem 250 event in North Carolina. But with the Rakuten title being worth 500 ATP ranking points, this makes it the 22-year-old’s best title yet. The 32nd ranked Medvedev only lost one set in his whole stint in Tokyo, and this surprisingly came when the Russian had to go through the qualifying draw, losing a first set tie-break to world number 250 Egor Gerasimov. But a 6-4 6-2 victory against former world number 4 Kei Nishikori secured a great week for Danill.
Despite the final loss, overall it was a good week for compatriot Nishikori who was seeded third and did not drop a set on his route to the final.
Elsewhere in the tournament, number one seed and quarter finalist at this year’s US Open Marin Cilic suffered a shock first round defeat to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. The 28-year-old ranked 56th in the world came from a set down to beat the Croatian. Cilic had seemed in control after taking the first set at the expense of just three games. Struff caught fire however in the second winning it 6-4, and despite losing an early lead in the third, Struff crushed Cilic 7-1 in a final set tie-break. The world number 6 has not picked up a trophy since Queens this year.
Another big name expected to do better was three-time grand slam champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who was able to battle past American Taylor Fritz in round one, but the 33-year-old from Switzerland was put out in the second round by Canada’s young Shapovalov in three sets.
It was however an impressive week for former French world number 7 Richard Gasquet, who made the semi-final after beating Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson in two tie-break sets, before being defeated by Nishikori in the semi-final.