Asian players to watch at Wimbledon

We take a look at the Asian contingent who could do well and possibly win titles at this year’s Wimbledon.

In the men’s singles, Japan’s world number six, Kei Nishikori, could very well go all the way, although the Japanese ace has been drawn in the same half as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Just in case

His best ever showing at a grand slam was in 2014 when he lost in the US Open final to Croatia’s Marin Cilic in straight sets.

In 2015, Nishikori had his best showing at Wimbledon when he reached the fourth round, before losing in four sets to big-serving Milos Raonic of Canada.

So far in 2016, the 26-year-old has played well, most notably reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals. In February, Nishikori won the Memphis Open for the fourth time. He also reached the Miami Open final, where he lost to world number one Novak Djokovic.

In April, he lost in the final of the Barcelona Open to Rafael Nadal and then lost in the semi-finals of the Madrid and Italian Opens.

If Nishikori is fit he will be tough on the grass courts of Wimbledon, as he returns serve well and hits his ground strokes hard and flat which keeps the ball low on the fast courts. Though not having a big serve, he places it well, mixing it up, which makes him tough to break.

Nishikori is definitely someone who can get beyond the quarter-finals at this year’s event.

Here are some other Asian men’s singles players to look out for are according to the current ATP rankings:

World number 70, Lu Yen-hsun, of Chinese Taipei is a right-hander with a two-handed backhand who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2010. In 2015, Lu reached a career milestone by becoming only the second player in history to reach 300 career Challenger wins.

Korea Republic’s 20-year-old, Chung Hyeon, who is currently ranked at 109, has had a quiet year so far but is capable of upsetting the best players on his day.

Asia’s best chance of winning a Wimbledon title lies with women’s specialist doubles player Sania Mirza of India. She won last year’s women’s doubles title with Swiss partner Martina Hingis and the duo are number one in the world rankings and top seeds for Wimbledon.

Just in case

They also won the US Open last year and the Australian Open in 2016 and four other doubles titles to date this year.

Mirza also reached the mixed doubles quarter-finals at Wimbledon with Brazil’s Bruno Soares. Hingis and Mirza’s countryman Leander Paes won the title.

In the men’s doubles, India’s Rohan Bopanna and partner Florin Mergea of Romania are a useful doubles pairing and are currently ranked 11th. The two have been together since April 2015 and have won three tournaments and been runners-up five times.

Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi is expected to be playing with Jonathan Marray of Britain, who won the Wimbledon title in 2012 with Frederik Nielsen. Marray is ranked 53rd in the world with the Pakistan number one being ranked 37th.

Indian doubles/mixed doubles specialist Leander Paes has recently teamed up with Jérémy Chardy of France and if they decide to play together at Wimbledon they could be a team that are quite capable of winning the Wimbledon doubles title.

In mixed doubles, Paes and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis are the Wimbledon defending champions and look like they could very well be picking up a second title this year if things go according to plan.

Just in case

In the women’s doubles, favourites to defend their title must be the world number one duo of Hingis and Mirza with Chinese Taipei’s third seeds Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan very capable of going all the way, having won three doubles titles since joining forces.

The eighth seeds from China Xu Yifan and Zheng Saisai are also capable of going far in the event having won January’s Shenzhen Open in China.

In the women’s singles, the highest-ranked Asian player on the WTA rankings is Misaki Doi of Japan, who is ranked 48th. The 25-year-old has one WTA singles title to her name, winning the 2015 BGL Luxembourg Open and was runner-up at the Taiwan Open in February 2016. She has also won six ITF Circuit singles finals.

Doi is capable of upsetting big names as she nearly did when holding a match point against 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber in their first round match.

China’s 27-year-old Zhang Shuai was a surprise singles quarter-finalist at the Australian Open this year and has one WTA singles title to her name, winning the Guangzhou International Women’s Open in 2013.

She is very capable of defeating the top ranked players just like she did in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open when defeating then-world number two Simona Halep in straight sets, and could be a threat at Wimbledon if taken lightly.

The other women’s Asian singles players ranked in the top 100 that could spring a few surprises are – 73rd ranked Wang Qiang of China, Naomi Osaka of Japan ranked at 91st and 94th-ranked compatriot Kurumi Nara.

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