• Nadal headlines strong field at Japan Open

    10/3/11 3:36 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal headlines strong field at Japan Open Rafael Nadal will return to tournament action for the first time since the U.S. Open when he takes the court in Tokyo. He is part of a top half of the draw that also features Mardy Fish and Janko Tipsarevic.

    The 2011 home stretch begins this week in Tokyo for Rafael Nadal, who is the main attraction at the Japan Open. This will be Nadal's first tournament since losing the U.S. Open final to Novak Djokovic, but he made a Davis Cup appearance last month and won two convincing singles rubbers for Spain.

    The world No. 2 will kick off his Tokyo campaign against Japanese wild card Go Soeda. That's just about the easiest opener Nadal could have asked for, but a possible second-rounder with Milos Raonic and a potential quarterfinal showdown against Janko Tipsarevic loom large. Tipsarevic finally captured his first career ATP title on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur.

    Nadal's biggest threat in the top half of the draw prior to the final could be Mardy Fish. Tokyo's top seed took care of Fish at Wimbledon, but Nadal is traditionally at his worst on the American hard courts leading up to the U.S. Open and that is exactly where Fish took advantage. The American blasted Nadal in straight sets in the Cincinnati quarterfinals.

    Fish is set for a first-round matchup with familiar foe and countryman Ryan Harrison. The 19-year-old is in the midst of a breakout year on tour, but Fish got the best of him in both Atlanta and Los Angeles. Fish is on course for a potential quarterfinal meeting with Viktor Troicki.

    Other unseeded threats in the top half include Robin Haase, Dmitry Tursunov, Ernests Gulbis, and Bernard Tomic.

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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