The tennis season may be considered as good as over to some but there is still a bit of tournament action taking place outside of the four Grand Slams. On the back of the U.S. Open it always seems like the Toray Pan Pacific and the Rakuten Open mens tournament (which follows in October) are a journey too far for many of the real big stars who decide to take a well-deserved break or are competing in other competitions such as the Davis Cup.
Think of tennis and images of players battling it out on a sun-drenched court at Wimbledon or Melbourne Park may come to mind. Fat chance of such glorious conditions in Tokyo these days where rain has dominated the weather for about a month now. Obviously, the roof of the Ariake Coliseum was closed and as is now customary Tokyo Fox was in attendance.
Since last year, Friday’s have been quarter final day and though I could attend the final on Sunday, this particular day is more appealing to me and better value for money as you get to see more for less. The first match of the day saw Belinda Bencic (SUI) beat Garbiñe Muguruza Blanco (ESP) 7-6, 6-1 but I chose to miss this one and arrived perfectly in time to see Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) and Angelique Kerber (GER) walk on court. This duel featured lots of powerful back court rallies but the top seed eventually came out on top 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
The next quarter final opened with some very fast games going with serve before Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) dominated but Karolina Pliskova (CZE) fought back well before eventually losing 7-5, 6-2.
For the final match of the day, number two seed Ana Ivanovic (SRB) broke serve early on against Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) and it looked like it would be a straightforward victory for the reigning champion.
However, the unseeded Slovakian (with a serve which sounds like she is saying “shhhh*t” each time!) bounced back, took the tie-break and powered on in the second set for a 7-6, 6-3 victory. During this match I took in the action from a mix of different angles and amongst a sparse crowd in the 10,000 stadium was the guy pictured below! Not a great advert for the tournament!
That’s another year of women’s tennis over for me then but I am seriously thinking of returning to Ariake in a couple of weeks time for the Rakuten Open men’s tournament where Japan’s Kei Nishikori is the top player on show.
Click on the links below to read about previous tournaments: