Japan Open 2022: Men's Singles draw analysis, preview and prediction

Rohit
2022 US Open - Day 12
Casper Ruud at the 2022 US Open.

The draw for the 2022 Japan Open has been unveiled. The tournament has attracted several top players, led by World No. 2 Casper Ruud. Fellow top-10 player Cameron Norrie is also present.

Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, who've enjoyed a pretty good season so far, will look to kick off their end-of-season campaign on a high note. Nick Kyrgios has been another standout player this year and returns to action for the first time since the US Open.

Denis Shapovalov, Dan Evans, Alex de Minaur and Borna Coric are some of the other players in the running who could challenge the top players here. On that note, let's take a look at how the Japan Open draw could unfold over the next week:


Top half: Casper Ruud gunning for his first hardcourt title of the season

Casper Ruud is the top seed at the Japan Open.
Casper Ruud is the top seed at the Japan Open.

Seeded Players: (1) Casper Ruud, (4) Frances Tiafoe, (6) Alex de Mianur (8) Dan Evans.

Expected semifinal: Casper Ruud vs Frances Tiafoe.

Dark Horse: Yoshihito Nishioka.

Eight of Casper Ruud's nine titles have come on clay. He has improved considerably on hardcourts, as evident by his runner-up finishes at the Miami Open and the US Open. However, he'll now be aiming to lay his hands on the winner's trophy on the surface.

Ruud is up against Jaume Munar in the first round of the Japan Open. On paper, he seems the overwhelming favorite. However, the World No. 2 struggled during the Korea Open and lost to Yoshihito Nishioka in the quarterfinals. If he doesn't step up his game, he could be tested by the Spaniard.

A win would pit Ruud against either Pedro Martinez or Alexei Popyrin. The Norwegian is likely to get past this stage regardless of who he faces. He could potentially meet Alex de Minaur in the quarterfinals. The Australian will take on Kwon Soon-woo in his opener, with Mackenzie McDonald being his likely second-round foe.

De Minaur could certainly upset Ruud if they face off in the quarterfinals. This contest could swing either way, but if the World No. 2 is back to his best, he's likely to gain the upper hand and advance further.

Frances Tiafoe reached his maiden Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open last month. His path to the last eight at the Japan Open seems rather straightforward. He'll start against Yasutaka Uchiyama and could face either Taro Daniel or Bernabe Zapata Miralles after that. The American should get past them with ease based on his form.

Dan Evans will face Radu Albot in the opening round, with a likely second-round date with Nishioka afterwards. The Brit lost to him at the Korea Open and is yet to defeat him in six tries. The winner is likely to meet Tiafoe in the quarterfinals, with the American holding the edge to advance further.

Bottom half: Nick Kyrgios aiming for a second Japan Open title

Nick Kyrgios is a former Japan Open champion.
Nick Kyrgios is a former Japan Open champion.

Seeded players: (2) Cameron Norrie, (3) Taylor Fritz, (5) Nick Kyrgios, (7) Denis Shapovalov.

Expected semifinal: Cameron Norrie vs Nick Kyrgios.

Dark Horse: Brandon Nakashima.

Cameron Norrie could be considered a favorite for the title, but it all depends on if he's feeling healthy. He had to withdraw from the Korea Open after falling ill. The draw didn't do him any favors as he will take on Thanasi Kokkinakis in his opener.

The winner is likely to meet Brandon Nakashima in the second round, who won his maiden career title at the San Diego Open in September. If Norrie has recovered, he should be able to make the quarterfinals.

After a tough few months, Denis Shapovalov seems to have found his mojo once again. He reached his first final of the season at the Korea Open and will meet either Nishioka or Aleksandar Kovacevic in the title round on Sunday. The Canadian will begin his Japan Open challenge against Steve Johnson, followed by a qualifier.

If Shapovalov's able to ride the momentum to the last eight, he could meet either Norrie or Nakashima. At his best, he certainly has the potential to best both of them.

Taylor Fritz will kick-off his campaign against James Duckworth and is likely to meet the 2022 Western & Southern Open champion Borna Coric in the second round. The American has been quite up and down over the last few weeks, so he could bow out early once again.

Coric had a brilliant run to the title in Cincinnati but crashed out in the second round of the US Open. He'll face a qualifier in the first round, and if he ends up meeting Fritz in the next round, the Croat has it in him to pull off an upset win.

Nick Kyrgios has played some of his best tennis this season and has been on a roll this year. He won the doubles title at the Australian Open earlier this year and finished as the runner-up at Wimbledon in singles. He also won the Japan Open back in 2016, defeating David Goffin in three sets to claim the title.

The 27-year old is up against Chun-Hsin Tseng in the opening round, with a potential second-round meeting with Kamil Majchrzak on the cards. Kyrgios is likely to defeat both of them to reach the quarterfinals. His possible opponents in the last eight could be either Fritz or Coric, though the Australian should be able to move past whoever he faces.

Semifinal predictions:

Casper Ruud def. Frances Tiafoe.

Nick Kyrgios def. Denis Shapovalov.

Prediction for the final: Nick Kyrgios def. Casper Ruud.

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