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Yokohama Challenger quarter-finals preview and predictions: Sugita, Whittington battling for semi-final spots

  • Top quarter goes to seeding as top seed Yuichi Suigta faces Zhe Zhang
  • Two former Challenger winners face each other as qualifiers
  • Andrew Whittington faces teenage qualifier
Andrew Whittington (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

The quarter-finals of the Yokohama Challenger in Japan have been set, with the exception of the third quarter due to delays in Thursday's schedule. Friday's schedule features the top seed, a pair of qualifiers, and Australian eighth seed Andrew Whittington.

WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER BURTON

Top quarter: (1) Yuichi Sugita vs (7) Zhe Zhang. Sugita has had a relatively poor start to the year, and has seen his ranking drop twenty-two places since the beginning of 2017. He failed to make the main draw of the Australian Open, losing to Andrey Rublev in qualifying and suffered a first round defeat in the Maui Challenger. However, he has made a semi-final and quarter-final at Challenger level so far this season. 

Zhe Zhang started the year with a loss to a player ranked outside the Top 1000 at a Futures event. The seventh seed had rebounded nicely in this event though, defeating a qualifier and Blaz Kavcic, who was a finalist in Kyoto last week, in reaching the quarter-final stage. There is no head-to-head history to consult between these two as they have never met before on Tour in singles play.
Pick: Yuichi Sugita 

Second Quarter: (Q) Blake Mott vs (Q) Brydan Klein. Normally a pair of qualifiers making it this deep in a Challenger draw would be cause for celebration. However, both Mott and Klein are no strangers to this level, as both are former Challenger titlists. They share a 1-1 record in their head-to-head, but Klein has an edge here because his win came as recently as just a few weeks ago in Launceston. Having said that, Mott's form over 2017 as a whole would be considered better than Klein's making this a tough call. Klein had picked up two good wins in the draw so far, defeating Franko Skugor and Marko Tepavac, whilst Mott took down fifth seed Grega Zemlja, and young Aussie Marc Polmans. Pick: Brydan Klein.

Fourth Quarter: (8) Andrew Whittington vs (Q) Soon Woo Kwon. Another qualifier features in the bottom quarter-final, in the form of Kwon. Kwon did not drop a set in qualifying, including defeating top seed Blaz Rola. He has kept going in the main draw with wins over Jason Jung and Zhe Li, who had taken down second seed Henri Laaksonen just a round earlier. Despite the undeniably good form, Kwon is up against a level of opponent in Whittington that he simply has not faced yet in this tournament. Whittington is just a week removed from his career-best ranking, and won his first round match at the Australian Open against Adam Pavlasek. His form since has been a little patchy, but he should win this one. Pick: Andrew Whittington

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Yokohama Challenger quarter-finals preview and predictions: Sugita, Whittington battling for semi-final spots

Top seed Yuichi Sugita looks to make his second Challenger semi-final of the year in Yokohama.

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