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Tennis ATP Update • Ricky’s Picks | Preview For The Rolex Shanghai Masters 1000

A general view of the semi-final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the Shanghai Tennis Masters at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center in Shanghai, China, 17 October 2015. EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA
A general view of the semi-final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the Shanghai Tennis Masters at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center in Shanghai, China, 17 October 2015.  EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

On the heels of some 250-point events and a couple of relatively unspectacular 500-pointers, the Asian swing is heating up this week at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. An alarming five of the world’s top 13 players are missing–including top-ranked Rafael Nadal due to a knee injury–but both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are taking the court. This is also a critical week in the race to the Nitto ATP Finals, with Dominic Thiem, Kevin Anderson, and Kei Nishikori especially aware of that.

 

Rolex Shanghai Masters

Prize money: $7,086,700

Points: 1000

Top seed: Roger Federer

Defending champion: Roger Federer

 

Draw analysis: Federer’s path to a second consecutive Shanghai title (would be the third of his career) looks like a rough one, as the Swiss’ opener is likely to come against Tokyo title winner Daniil Medvedev–while huge-serving Canadian Milos Raonic looms large as a possible third-round foe. Nishikori, the runner-up to Medvedev at the Japan Open, also finds himself in the top quarter of the bracket. Federer, meanwhile, is playing an official event for the first time since getting shocked by John Millman in the U.S. Open fourth round.

 

The other section in the top half has no obvious favorite but is notably deep. An under-the-weather Juan Martin Del Potro struggled in his Beijing final loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili, so the Argentine is a question mark heading into this Masters 1000 tournament. Thiem has never been at his best on hard courts, but the Austrian is heating up on this surface with a run to the USO quarters (lost to Nadal in a five-set thriller) and a recent title at the St. Petersburg Open. Richard Gasquet, Nick Kyrgios, Frances Tiafoe, and the winner of a first-round battle between Borna Coric and Stan Wawrinka could also make some noise.

 

Relative to that of Federer, Djokovic’s road could be routine. The Serb should at least cruise through two matches before possibly encountering some quarterfinal trouble in the form of either Anderson, Stefanos Tsitsipas, or Karen Khachanov. Anderson is No. 7 in the 2018 race to the O2 Arena but not exactly close to clinching a spot, so he could be feeling some pressure against either Gael Monfils, Tsitsipas, or Khachanov in round three.

 

As for Alexander Zverev, he is in a funk but cannot be taken lightly at a Masters 1000 tournament (he already owns three of these titles at 21 years old). The German awaits a difficult opening contest against Basilashvili or Denis Shapovalov. Marin Cilic and Alex de Minaur may also be in the mix in the third quarter of the draw.

 

First-round upset possibility: (WC) Stan Wawrinka over (13) Borna Coric. Wawrinka is sweeping the head-to-head series 3-0 (leads the Croat 6-1 in total sets) and he has advanced at least one round in five straight events. Coric is 0-2 on this Asian swing, with a Shenzhen loss to Cameron Norrie and a much worse loss to Feliciano Lopez at the China Open.

 

Quarterfinal picks: Roger Federer over Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem over Richard Gasquet, Denis Shapovalov over Marin Cilic, and Novak Djokovic over Karen Khachanov

Semifinals: Federer over Thiem and Djokovic over Khachanov

Final: Djokovic over Federer

 

Ed Note • RF

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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