Monday September 24th, 2012

The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. This week, Tokyo gets a stacked women's draw while Janko Tipsarevic and David Ferrer serve as top seeds in two ATP events.

Tokyo: The Pan Pacific Open is primed for an exciting week with 12 of the top 13 women entered. Of course, the most notable absentee is Serena Williams, who is skipping the non-mandatory tournament and will rejoin the tour next week in Beijing. No. 1 Victoria Azarenka tops the draw with Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova anchoring the quarters. Radwanska, in particular, has a lot on the line over the next few weeks, even after this week becoming the fourth player to clinch a spot at the year-ending WTA Championships. Last year, after a disappointing second-round loss to a then-rising Angelique Kerber at the U.S. Open, Radwanska rebounded for back-to-back titles in Tokyo and Beijing to pocket 1,900 points. If the third-ranked Radwanska can't defend those points over the next two weeks, she could tumble out of the top five.

Tokyo will also serve as a glimpse into the motivation and energy levels for the top players as the offseason approaches. How will Azarenka, Sharapova, Kvitova and Kerber respond to their U.S. Open campaigns? And what about some of the other players, like Li Na, Sam Stosur, Marion Bartoli, and Ana Ivanovic, who built some good momentum during the summer hard-court season? As Radwanska showed last year, the fall can be a great time for a driven player to consolidate her ranking and finish the year on a positive note.

Potential matches to watch: Ana Ivanovic vs. Urszula Radwanska (second round); Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Jelena Jankovic (second round); Caroline Wozniacki vs. Daniela Hantuchova (second round); Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Li Na; Sam Stosur vs. Francesca Schiavone (second round); Ana Ivanovic vs. Angelique Kerber (third round); Li Na vs. Caroline Wozniacki (third round); Petra Kvitova vs. Nadia Petrova (third round).

Bangkok: Andy Murray won't be defending his Thailand Open title, leaving Tipsarevic as the top seed. Tipsarevic, like Radwanska, knows how to take advantage of the fall season. Last year, Tipsarevic won Kuala Lumpur for his first career title and then went on to win Moscow, make the finals of St. Petersburg and finally break into the top 10. Of course, the curse of success means the pressure to defend those results this year. We'll see how much Tipsy has left in the tank after a long year.

Potential matches to watch: Donald Young vs. Lu Yen-Hsun (first round); Gael Monfils vs. Kevin Anderson (first round); Bernard Tomic vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (first round); Richard Gasquet vs. Grigor Dimitrov (second round); Milos Raonic vs. Ivo Karlovic (second round); Gael Monfils vs. Gilles Simon (third round); Bernard Tomic vs. Richard Gasquet/Grigor Dimitrov (third round). Kuala Lumpur: Give it a rest, Daveed! After making the U.S. Open semifinals and speeding off to Gijon to help Spain secure a spot in the Davis Cup finals, Ferrer is back in action this week at the Malaysian Open He's the heavy favorite in this draw, which has No. 12 Juan Monaco as the second-highest-ranked player, though Ferrer's road to the final might include two solid hard-courters in Feliciano Lopez and Julien Benneteau. Ferrer is seeking his sixth title of the year.

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