1) Medvedev Rising
When Daniil Medvedev lost the first set of his final-round qualifying match against Egor Gerasimov, it would have been hard to predict that the 22-year-old would end up lifting the trophy in Tokyo. But the Russian played some amazing tennis, holding all of his service games in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the championship match to come out victorious at the ATP World Tour 500-level for the first time.
In just the second week of the 2018 season, Medvedev was No. 84 in the ATP Rankings. But thanks to his performance in Japan, he will become the No. 1 Russian on Monday, climbing to No. 22, a career-high. Before the season, Medvedev owned zero ATP World Tour titles. Now, he owns three.
“"The year is not finished, so I'm going to try to reach even higher. I'm going to have a pre-season where I'm going to try to improve even more and be better every day,” Medvedev said. “If this will be the case, I maybe won't even have to look back anymore. But you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, so I'm just trying to focus on today."
2) Kei Remains In Good Form
While home favourite Kei Nishikori fell just short of becoming the third player to triumph in Tokyo three times, the Japanese star should keep his head held high. Nishikori has won 11 of his past 14 matches, reaching the semi-finals at the US Open and the Moselle Open before his strong performance in Japan.
Nishikori began his year on the ATP Challenger Tour, as he began his comeback from a wrist injury that kept him out after Montreal last year. But the 28-year-old is already back in the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings. Nishikori is also No. 10 in the ATP Race To London, still in with a fighting chance to earn his fourth appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals.
"It's been a great couple months. After the US Open, I think I've been playing well. Maybe not today, but I'm happy to be in the final here again especially in Japan, my home," Nishikori said. "I've got to keep playing the same in Shanghai."
3) McLachlan/Struff Triumph
Given their results before arriving in Tokyo this year, it might have been hard to believe that Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff had never won a title together. The pair reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami, and also advanced to the last eight at Wimbledon.
But on Sunday, the Japanese-German team broke through, claiming their first triumph as a pair. McLachlan retains his Tokyo crown after winning in 2017 with Yasutaka Uchiyama, and Struff bounces back after failing to convert a match point against #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the singles quarter-finals. It is Struff’s first tour-level title in singles or doubles.
4) Gasquet In Great Form
The tournament might have ended earlier than the Frenchman had hoped, but Richard Gasquet showed in Tokyo that he still has plenty of tennis left in him at 32 years old. The No. 8 seed won five of his first six sets at this event in tie-breaks, defeating the likes of No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson and talented Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
And while Gasquet fell short in the semi-finals against eventual finalist Kei Nishikori, his performance showed that the Frenchman can compete with the best players on the ATP World Tour. Gasquet, the former World No. 7, captured a title earlier this year at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
5) Watch Out For Watanuki
It’s tough to tell exactly how high #NextGenATP Yosuke Watanuki can climb in the ATP Rankings, but the 20-year-old is perhaps the star of the future for Japanese tennis. Watanuke not only qualified for his second ATP World Tour 500-level event this week, but he earned his first ATP World Tour match win by defeating World No. 44 Robin Haase. That was just his third Top 100 win, and his first against a member of the Top 50.
The youngest #NextGenATP Japanese player then tested former World No. 3 Milos Raonic, pushing the Canadian to a second-set tie-break. Watanuki is currently No. 273 in the ATP Rankings, but he will crack the Top 250 for the first time on Monday. The Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 could serve as a slingshot for Watanuki’s rise.