With the US Open complete and temperatures here in the U.S. starting to drop ever so slightly as fall approaches, it may feel like the tennis season is drawing to a close. But the Asian swing is already underway whether the players and fans are ready for it or not.
For some high profile pros, like Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova, injuries are forcing them to skip upcoming events altogether. Sharapova is still recovering from shoulder bursitis that forced her to withdraw from New York, while Murray is undergoing minor back surgery that may force him to miss not only Asia but the end of year event in London, too.
READ -- Murray to Undergo Back Surgery, May Miss Rest of Season
Even Serena Williams announced she is out of Tokyo simply because she needs a rest after a busy summer. Her recent post on Twitter at least gave fans in Beijing hope the world No.1 would show up there for the first time since 2009.
Williams, who doesn't need to add on points to protect her world No.1 ranking and is already qualified for the WTA Championships in October, may disappoint some fans by not showing up in Japan. But her need to "recharge" is probably what many tennis watchers are doing right now since there really isn't an off-season to speak of, despite continuing complaints from the pros that it needs to be longer.
One player who doesn't seem to be stopping just yet is Rafael Nadal. With his absence last year, Nadal is still racking up points, and if the Spaniard does appear in Beijing and Shanghai as he is scheduled to do, he will likely pass Novak Djokovic as world No. 1 in October.
With Murray absent and Roger Federer only scheduled to appear at the Shanghai Masters, the duel between Djokovic and Nadal for the top ATP ranking could well be the most compelling story for the men during the Asian swing. Since his loss to Nadal in the US Open finals, many are wondering what is next for Djokovic and how he will respond to Nadal's surge.
READ -- What's Next for Djokovic After New York?
Asia still represents an opportunity for several guys to make up ground on the ATP's elite tier. France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is back on the courts after missing several months due to injury. Surprise US Open semifinalists Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka both need strong showings on the continent to keep their hopes alive in making the ATP World Tour Finals in London. And let's not forget Japan's own Kei Nishikori, who must deal with the pressure of trying to defend his home title in Tokyo.
On the WTA side, Victoria Azarenka is a strong favorite to do well both in Tokyo and Beijing, where she is the defending champion. China's Li Na will certainly have all eyes on her as she attempts to win her country's biggest event. Li and Agnieszka Radwanska, a former winner herself, will be aiming to finish the season in the top four, especially if Sharapova, currently ranked No. 3, doesn't play the rest of the year.
The rankings race in both the ATP and WTA tours is what makes Asia an important stop for many pros. So for those fans thinking of taking a break, find a way to recharge those eyeballs so you don't miss any of the action.
Follow Erik Gudris on Twitter @ATNtennis