Dear readers, Sorry about not posting semifinal predictions for either event. I was sick (2017 has not been great with my health). Here are my takes on the two championship matches.
China Open: Rafael Nadal vs. Nick Kyrgios
Rafa has been pushed in this event. He has also responded. A win here puts Roger Federer in a very tough spot for achieving the #1 ranking in 2017. Nick Kyrgios’ serve can be paralyzing and does undermine some of Nadal’s grinding. Their head-to-head is tied at 2-2. If Kyrgios comes out clicking, he could overwhelm Rafa who may be worn down from a long season and a tough path to the final. That is more or less what happened in Cincinnati. Still, I think Rafa has to be the pick until someone starts beating him with regularity.
My Prediction: Rafael Nadal d. Nick Kyrgios 7-5, 7-6
Japan Open: David Goffin vs. Adrian Mannarino
This match pits a player who won last week against an unexpected finalist. Mannarino is a rugged competitor who is proving to be tough to eliminate. Goffin is back from an injury and is riding a 2 week winning streak. Goffin’s ability to take the ball early, generate surprising power, and return serve well all make me lean toward him. Also, Goffin leads their head-to-head 2-0 and has more overall experience.
My Prediction: David Goffin d. Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-3