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Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray Live Shanghai Masters
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The Shanghai Masters 1000 kicks off this weekend with the race for year end number one in the balance. Neither Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic played last year so both have potential for big points although Djokovic has to be the slight favourite due to his outstanding hard court record in the past two years. US Open champion Andy Murray will hope to keep up his excellent form by defending the title here.
Roger Federer heads the draw and will face either a qualifier or wildcard Ze Zhang. Home favourite Zhang pulled off a shock against Richard Gasquet in Beijing but it should be a step too far against the world number one this week. Carlos Berlocq ended a five match losing streak in Beijing and has a chance against a player who is in a similarly slump to what the Argentinian was. However Denis Istomin will take heart from his most recent defeat where he pushed Jo Wilfried Tsonga all the way to a final set tie break. An all Swiss third round tie looks very possible with Stanislas Wawrinka nearby in the draw. He faces Albert Ramos who suffered a shocking defeat to Lukas Lacko in Tokyo. The Spaniard won just two games against an opponent who had lost their last eight matches at main draw level.
After being shocked by a Romanian wildcard outside the top 200 in Beijing, Marin Cilic will be looking for major improvements this week and opens against a qualifier. Cilic drew a qualifier in the opening round of Beijing last year two but was shocked in straight sets by Albert Ramos. After an intense few months for Martin Klizan that have seen him pick up his first ATP title and a career high ranking, it looks to have finally caught up with him. A shock defeat to Marco Chiuidinelli in Tokyo perhaps will have done Klizan good, giving the Slovak some much needed rest time. He faces Thomaz Bellucci who was also dumped out of Tokyo in his first match. Last year, these two played in the Challenger Tour end of year finals so it will give you an idea how far they have come, especially Klizan. Bellucci was victorious that day, winning in a final set tie break. Since impressing in Atlanta, Go Soeda has struggled to pick up wins and it is hard to see it changing against Fernando Verdasco. With Juan Monaco awaiting in the second round, there is still potential for a run in this tournament but Monaco will be confident after his first hard court title in Kuala Lumpur.
Andy Murray will be quietly confident of his chances after looking at the draw in his quarter. He opens up against either the polarising Bernard Tomic or Florian Mayer. Tomic was sent packing in his first round against Dmitry Tursunov last week with a good chance of the same happening this week. Tomic has lost both matches against Mayer, including a decisive Davis Cup tie this year. Depending on the fitness and state of mind of Alexandr Dolgopolov, his tie with Jeremy Chardy could turn out to be a classic. On their day both are great shotmakers but also riddled with inconsistencies at times. Chardy has won both their matches on hard courts – 1 inside, 1 outside. Jurgen Melzer had been out form for a long time up until Beijing, managing to finally string two victories together before having the misfortune to face Novak Djokovic. Meanwhile, opponent Gilles Simon is just recently off a Bangkok final appearance. With both players seemingly in form, this should be an interesting one between two experienced players. The Frenchman has won both their hard court matches, Cincinnati 2011 and Miami 2012.
Richard Gasquet was the player who defeated Simon in the Bangkok final as he added another 250 title to his trophy collection. He opens with a qualifier with Radek Stepanek or wildcard Lleyton Hewitt awaiting in the second round. Stepanek is on a four match losing streak but perhaps was unfortunate to face Del Potro, Raonic, Fish and Almagro in such a short period of time. Despite some feeling Hewitt is better off retiring, the Aussie continues to fight on and is still capable of great results from to time. After a shocking collapse in Bangkok, Jarkko Nieminen is sure to be low on confidence and won’t be too fond of playing big serving Kevin Anderson who finally ended a poor run by defeating Brian Baker in Beijing. The winner faces John Isner. Isner will be hoping to face Nieminen (4-0 head to head) rather than the South African Anderson (3-3 H2H).
The third quarter very much looks fairly predictable with quallifiers and weak home wildcards scattered about (although Ze Zhang did perform last week). Benoit Paire will need to defeat a qualifier to earn a second round match with his fellow Frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga is currently on a nine match winning streak and in the Beijing final so will be a tough ask. Paire will definitely improve on his 2&1 defeat last year should he get the chance but that should be about it. Tokyo semi finalist Marcos Baghdatis will be confident of turning around his 0-2 record against Fabio Fognini but shouldn’t expect to go any further. Barring an exceptional performance from a qualifier Milos Raonic awaits in the next round. Raonic has made the Tokyo final after an extraordinary defeat of Andy Murray in three sets, suggesting he is finally moving closer to the top.
Tokyo finalist Kei Nishikori and Sam Querrey both should have few issues with Chinese opponents as they face Di Wu and Zhe Li respectively. Wu was defeated by Ze Zhang last week while Li has struggled to win matches even on the Challenger Tour. Hurting after his defeat to Kei Nishikori in Tokyo, Tomas Berdych will be keen to get back to winning ways and should fancy his chances against Andreas Seppi should the Italian defeat a qualifier first. Berdych leads the head to head 3-2 but more importantly has won their last two encounters on hard courts.
In what is probably the pick of the matches not involving a seed Viktor Troicki takes on Mikhail Youzhny. Troicki has been disappointing lately but can still compete to a high level when on form. There are questions over his health however after he withdrew early in his match against Milos Raonic. The potential for an all-Serbian second round is there though, with Janko Tipsarevic awaiting the winner. Tommy Robredo, playing under a protected ranking, strikes lucky and will face a qualifier first up. The next round should pose more questions should he qualify, with Tommy Haas or Nicolas Almagro awaiting the winner. Haas’ level has dropped off from the summertime but the 34 year-old is still playing some great tennis. He has defeated Almagro once before but there isn’t much you can read into from a clay match in 2005.
Youngster Ryan Harrison has struggled for consistent results since bursting on to the tour, having won just three of his last ten matches. He is unlikely to find much against an opponent 39-21 on the year in Philipp Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber has already defeated the American once this year, in three sets in Auckland. After retiring in his Beijing semi final, there will be doubts over Feliciano Lopez‘s health but as of now he is scheduled to face Alejandro Falla in round one. Most famous for almost beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon, the Colombian has never quite kicked on but can take a scalp from time to time. Lopez was victorious in their last encounter, winning in straights at the Australian Open. Grigor Dimitrov has another shot at the big stage if he can get past Pablo Andujar as Novak Djokovic awaits in round two. Neither player is performing all that well at the moment but the neutral must be hoping Dimitrov is victorious, the big court atmosphere will very much suit the talented Bulgarian.
Finals Prediction – Roger Federer defeats Novak Djokovic