The ATP 500 in Tokyo is underway with an interesting lineup of title favorites in Casper Ruud, Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, and Nick Kyrgios. We will see the majority of first-round action played out Tuesday. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who do you think will win?
ATP Tokyo Day 2 Predictions
Mackenzie McDonald vs Kaichi Uchida
Head-to-head: McDonald 1-0 Uchida
McDonald has had a tough time on the main tour this season, earning a 21-26 record. The American is coming into Tokyo with some momentum though, reaching the quarterfinals of Seoul after wins over Pedro Martinez and Shintaro Mochizuki before losing to Aleksandar Kovacevic. That was McDonald’s first ATP quarterfinal since Dubai in February. Uchida has had a mixed season on the Challenger Tour, winning his second career Challenger title in Oeiras in June and reaching a couple of quarterfinals. McDonald is far from having an ideal season but he showed last week that he has the ability to deal with players of Uchida’s level.
Prediction: McDonald in 2
Daniel Evans vs Radu Albot
Head-to-head: Evans 3-1 Albot
Outside of an impressive run to the semifinals in Toronto, Evans has had a largely mediocre season. Last week, the 32-year-old lost in the first round of Seoul to eventual champion Yoshihito Nishioka. Albot had a disappointing showing in US Open qualifying, losing to mostly-doubles-specialist Yuki Bhambri in straight sets. The Moldovan bounced back well though, winning the title at Istanbul Challenger before reaching the quarterfinals of Seoul last week. The two have faced off four times in the past three years, Albot winning the first meeting in the final of Delray Beach in 2019, his only ATP title. Evans has reeled off three straight wins, beating the Moldovan in Eastbourne and Atlanta later that season before winning 6-2 6-2 at the 2020 ATP Cup. Expect this to be a pretty even match with lots of extended rallies with Evans coming out on top.
Prediction: Evans in 3
Kamil Majchrzak vs Sho Shimabukuro
Head-to-head: first meeting
After a largely disappointing season, Majchrzak started to find some form last week. The Pole got solid wins over Ricardas Berankis and Oscar Otte in Sofia before going a set up on the eventual champion Marc-Andrea Huesler. Shimabukuro has had a solid season, earning a 34-20 record while splitting time between Challenger and ITFs and rising almost 200 spots in the rankings. The 25-year-old reached his first Challenger semifinal at Nonthaburi last month and started in qualifying this week. Shimabukuro got solid wins over more experienced Japanese players in Go Soeda and Hiroki Moriya to qualify, now getting to test himself against Majchrzak. The Pole should come out on top here but it might be a tougher challenge than expected.
Prediction: Majchrzak in 3
Hiroki Moriya vs Yuta Shimizu
Two Japanese players at different spots in their career coming out of qualifying. Moriya enters as a lucky loser, beating Yuki Mochizuki before losing to Sho Shimabukuro in three sets. The 31-year-old also got in as a lucky loser last week in Seoul, losing to Yosuke Watanuki and Radu Albot. Moriya’s season has not been great, mostly losing in early rounds of Challengers outside of two semifinal runs. Shimizu, 40-16 on the season, is having a solid year for himself. The 23-year-old got three ITF titles but seems to have taken a step to the next level with his performances in qualifying this week. Shimizu defeated Nicolas Jarry and Max Purcell in straight sets. On current form, I have to go with Shimizu as a favorite here.
Prediction: Shimizu in 2
Borna Coric vs Thanasi Kokkinakis
Head-to-head: first meeting
Coming back from a year-long lay-off this March, Coric has done well to get his season going after a slow start. Returning in Indian Wells, the Croat had just one win in seven matches until the French Open. After that, Coric started to regain some confidence with a Challenger title in Parma before he pulled off the biggest title of his career in Cincinnati. The 25-year-old got his first Masters 1000 title with strong wins throughout, including wins over Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas. After a strong start to the season with Kokkinakis that included his first career ATP title in Adelaide and a fourth-round run out of qualifying in Miami, the Australian has had a largely mediocre second half of the season. Coric’s level has not been the same since Cincinnati but I still see him as a slight favorite here, though I believe this to be a high-quality match.
Prediction: Coric in 3
Main Photo from Getty.