The Asian Swing comes to a close with the penultimate Masters 1000 event of the year in Shanghai, China. The event is fairly new in it’s current form with both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic winning 2 titles each in the past 5 years. It will be Djokovic, who beat Juan Martin Del Potro in 3 sets in the final last year, who will be looking for the threepeat.
Djokovic heads the draw as top seed and will begin against the highly touted Austrian Dominic Thiem. Thiem came through in straights again Lukas Rosol in one of the few matches played on Sunday. Djokovic was in tremendous form in picking up the Beijing title, not dropping a set and getting dangerously close to a double bagel in his 6-0 6-2 victory over Tomas Berdych in the final. Mikhail Kukushkin defeated Tommy Robredo in a third set tiebreak to earn a second round with most likely Kevin Anderson. The 16th seed will play is 2-0 against James Ward, who defeated Viktor Troicki in straights to earn his place in the draw.
Andy Murray is in dire need of points to make the World Tour Finals but landing in Djokovic’s section is far from ideal for the Brit who finally ended his title drought two weeks ago. He begins against Teymuraz Gabashvili with a possible match against Jerzy Janowicz for the second week running in round two. Murray started slowly against the Pole in the opening round of Beijing last week before coming through in 3 sets. Janowicz must defeat Edouard Roger Vasselin to make it there and will be confident given his current 3-0 record over the Frenchman. Martin Klizan pulled off an almighty shock last week by beating Nadal and his run in Beijing sees him earn a Special Exempt. He will play qualifier Samuel Groth with the opportunity to take on another high ranking Spaniard in David Ferrer in round two.
Roger Federer‘s first match since the US Open will be against either Leonardo Mayer or Di Wu. The expansion of tennis into China has proved far less successful in the men’s game than the women’s with Wu one of few players who manage to play Challengers but not one is a regular on the main tour. Alexander Dolgopolov‘s return has not seen much reward with two straight sets losses so far, the second of which was to 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in round one this week. He plays either Vasek Pospisil or Santiago Giraldo with the stats in the Canadian’s favour. Pospisil holds a 2-0 record over Giraldo, both this year with the most recent in Davis Cup action.
The second of two Chinese players in the draw, Ze Zhang, holds a shock win over Richard Gasquet in 2012. He will face a Frenchman in round one here, playing Julien Benneteau who disappointed in Beijing after seeing his finals losing streak extended the weak before in Kuala Lumpur. That was to Kei Nishikori whom he could potentially play in round three. He would have to defeat the winner of Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Istomin. Benneteau did win in straights against the former in the 2013 Australian Open but given the Bulgarian’s improvement since, there seems very little to take from that. Nishikori won home tournament Tokyo to make it 9-0 since the US Open and should extend that to at least 10-0 with either Jack Sock or Bernard Tomic first up for the Japanese star.
Tomas Berdych took advantage of Rafael Nadal’s exit to make the final in Beijing but looked completely lost in a one-sided affair with Novak Djokovic once there. After winning just two games, he will be looking to bounce back and a favourable draw could see him make at least the semi final. He opens against a Frenchman – either Richard Gasquet or Jeremy Chardy. Gasquet won convincingly in their last meeting – taking the opening rubber of the Davis Cup semi final in straight sets. While that was on clay, the record on hard court isn’t great for Berdych either, winning just 2 of 6. An all-Croatian affair is one of the standout round one matches with Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic facing each other with the winner to take on Marcel Granollers or Yen-Hsun Lu. Cilic and Lu each lead their respective opponents 2-0 in the head to head.
On paper, Stanislas Wawrinka should have little trouble in making the quarter finals. After his bye, he plays either Gilles Simon or Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Simon is 4-0 against the Spaniard. 15th seed Fabio Fognini is much weaker on hard court but it is difficult to conceive a scenario where he loses to Chinese wildcard Chuhan Wang. Donald Young and qualifier Malek Jaziri complete the quarter. Young lost to eventual winner Nishikori in Tokyo last week but not before winning this point in the straight sets loss.
After a surprising loss to Martin Klizan, Rafael Nadal will look to bounce back in Shanghai and win one of the two Masters events he has yet to do so in his career. He opens against either Feliciano Lopez or qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis. The young Aussie defeated Federico Delbonis and Maximo Gonzalez to earn his place in the draw. While it is possible that Nadal can also play a qualifier in Round 3 (Andrey Golubev) it looks likely that John Isner will face Nadal for the 5th time. Isner opens against a slightly less dangerous Spaniard in Pablo Andujar while Golubev plays Steve Johnson.
Mikhail Youzhny and Ernests Gulbis look to break a 3-3 head to head tie with their Round 1 clash. Youzhny has struggled this year and a 12th opening round loss looks on the cards for the Russian who is now outside the top 30. The winner plays either Pablo Cuevas or Ivan Dodig. Milos Raonic rounds off the seeds in the draw. The Canadian lost in the final of Tokyo to Kei Nishikori in 3 sets after not dropping a set all week. It may not be until an intriguing potential third rounder with Gulbis that he drops one this week with either Juan Monaco or Joao Sousa the opener this week.
SF: Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer
SF: Rafael Nadal defeats Tomas Berdych
F: Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal