The penultimate Masters 1000 event of the year takes place this week in Shanghai, China. Although the Shanghai Rolex Masters is a new event having only been founded in 2009, tennis history in Shanghai goes back further with the Shanghai Open in the 90s/00s while the World Tour Finals were hosted there before the contract began with London’s O2 Arena. Nikolay Davydenko was a surprise winner in 2009 while Andy Murray missed out on a third straight title last year after blowing five match points in the final to Novak Djokovic.
CHECK OUT the FULL DRAW: ATP Shanghai Masters 2013 Draw
While Djokovic (Player Profile) lost the No.1 ranking after Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) made the final of Beijing, he remains top seed here. He begins his title defence against either Marcel Granollers or Janko Tipsarevic. After going 50-27 in tour play last year, Tipsarevic has gone a disappointing 19-20 this year. Tipsarevic won the last meeting in Toronto 6-4 6-4 although neither player will really fancy their chances against Djokovic. Granollers won just three games in the US Open meeting with Djokovic last year, dropping the second and third sets to love.
Fabio Fognini hopes to bounce back after his shattering lost to Nadal from a set and 4-1 up and will open against a qualifier which could be one of Federico Delbonis, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison or Yen Hsun Lu to name a few. The winner will play a Spaniard in round two with Tommy Robredo looking to extend his 6-1 head to head record over Albert Montanes.
A quarter final between Djokovic and Federer (Player Profile) is on the cards should both players make it that far although it’s not the kindest of draws for the Swiss who was a losing finalist in 2010. Lleyton Hewitt plays Andreas Seppi in the opener with Hewitt leading the head to head 3-2. The Aussie is always a tough opponent and has wins over Del Potro and Haas in recent tournaments although he was soundly beaten by Fognini in Beijing. Federer has an 18-7 record over Hewitt although they have not met since 2011.
Richard Gasquet (Player Profile) has made the semi finals in his last three events and comes into this tournament playing some good tennis but hasn’t landed in the kindest of sections. Vasek Pospisil is much improved in the last few months while a second round with Gael Monfils is far from straight forward, should his fellow Frenchman defeat a qualifier.
David Ferrer (Player Profile) was defeated by Gasquet for the second time running and continues to struggle to live up to his current world no.4 ranking. He has a great chance to make the semi finals here though and live up to his seeding. He plays either Julien Benneteau or Lukas Rosol in round two. Benneteau was a first round lose in Beijing after making it 9 finals and no titles in Kuala Lumpur while Rosol continues to struggle for consistency.
The all-French encounter between Benoit Paire and Gilles Simon promises to be an intriguing affair. Paire leads the head to head 2-1 but lost last time out in Indian Wells. However their recent exploits suggest Simon should tie it up. Simon was a winner in Metz while Paire was dumped out of the Orleans Challenger semi finals by Leonardo Mayer. The winner will face either Florian Mayer or wildcard Di Wu. Wu took John Isner to three sets in Beijing but was ultimately defeated by the big serving American.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Player Profile) is still feeling his way back into things and was shocked by Ivan Dodig in the second round of Beijing, losing in straight sets to the Croatian. He could suffer a similar fate at the hands of Mikhail Youzhny who must defeat Pablo Andujar for the right to face him. The Russian is 3-3 with Tsonga, although all three losses have been on outdoor hard courts.
Tsonga could get revenge on Ivan Dodig with a potential third round meeting between the two but it appears unlikely. Jurgen Melzer is up first and the Austrian leads the head to head 1-0 although Kei Nishikori may be the one to stop the rematch happening. He plays Grigor Dimitrov in round one. Dimitrov was extremely disappointing in defeat to Roberto Bautista-Agut in Beijing, losing 6-4 6-2. Meanwhile, Nishikori will be looking to bounce back after failing to defend his title in Tokyo.
Rafael Nadal will play his last tournament as a No.2 seed after moving back to the top spot with his run in Beijing to add to his stunning year to date. He will play either Alexandr Dolgopolov or a qualifier in round two. In three meetings, the Ukranian has not taken a set and won an average of five games.
John Isner will also play a qualifier as he looks to come back from his disappointing loss to Tomas Berdych in Beijing having held break leads in both sets before losing in straights. Dmitry Tursunov looks the likely second round opponent for the winner with Carlos Berlocq still a favourable matchup on hard courts for the Russian. They have met just once – in an Ecuadorian challenger event 10 years ago.
Back to back finals for Milos Raonic (Player Profile) (a winner in Bangkok) bode well for the Canadian going into this tournament. He looks to improve on his second round performance last year and has a great chance with a qualifier up first. He then will play either Fernando Verdasco or Ze Zhang if he comes through the opener. Verdasco and Raonic notably had a feud after back to back indoor wins for Raonic although Verdasco has took the upper hand when it comes to the slower clay matches.
Kevin Anderson was a surprise first round loser in Tokyo, losing to Lukas Lacko in straight sets but he should bounce back against Victor Hanescu. Hanescu is now in a six match losing streak after a three set loss in Tokyo to Tipsarevic. The winner will play Stanislas Wawrinka (Player Profile) who has a 2-0 record against Anderson.
Having retired midway through the first set in their Beijing semi final, Tomas Berdych (Player Profile)‘s participation in this tournament will be in doubt but if he competes a projected semi final would be against Nadal once more. Jarkko Nieminen will have a chance to extend his 7-3 (3-0 on hard) record over Feliciano Lopez when he plays the Spaniard in the opening round here for a chance to meet Berdych.
Nicolas Almagro will play a qualifier after finally halting his five match losing streak in Tokyo, the highlight of which was a three set win over defending champion Nishikori. Awaiting the winner is either Bernard Tomic or Jeremy Chardy. Tomic has lost to Frenchmen in his past two tournaments although Chardy is levels below Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon. He leads the head to head 1-0 with a win in his Melbourne in 2011.
Juan Martin Del Potro (Player Profile) bounced back from his US Open disappoint in style, making the final of Tokyo. He will have one of the tougher unseeded opponents to begin his tournament as long as Philipp Kohlschreiber can defeat Mao-Xin Gong who is ranked outside the top 500. Del Potro currently leads the head to head 5-0 with four meetings on outdoor hard courts.
If the draw follows the seedings then Del Potro will face another opponent whom he has a 5-0 record against in the third round in Tommy Haas. The German lost in the first round in Beijing to Lleyton Hewitt and will have his work cut out against Sam Querrey. Querrey made the quarter finals in Beijing before Novak Djokovic defeated him easily 6-1 6-2. Awaiting the winner is Daniel Brands should he defeated an opening round qualifier.
SF: Novak Djokovic d. Jo Wilfried Tsonga
SF: Rafael Nadal d. Juan Martin Del Potro
F: Rafael Nadal d. Novak Djokovic