2016 ATP Shanghai Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2016 Asian Swing has arrived at its main event, the Masters 1000 level Shanghai Masters tournament in Shanghai, China. Here is a preview, with predictions, of the best men’s tennis tournament in Asia.
Shanghai Rolex Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
October 9-16, 2016
Prize Money: $5,452,985
Top 8 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP Rankings in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Andy Murray (2)
3: Stan Wawrinka (3)
4: Rafael Nadal (4)
5: Milos Raonic (6)
6: Gael Monfils (8)
7: Tomas Berdych (9)
8: Marin Cilic (11)
Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori are notably absent, Borna Coric and Alexandr Dolgopolov are also skipping out.
First round matchups to watch:
(14)Richard Gasquet vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Gasquet has never lost to current Beijing finalist Dimitrov (5-0), and he reached the final in Shenzen on the Asian swing. Dimitrov has been playing some great tennis this Fall though, and should test the Frenchman. Given the fatigue factor, I still favor Gasquet to extend his h2h record.
(15)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Bernard Tomic
Tomic beat RBA at Wimbledon this year but he’s lost two straight matches and looks to have lost his way again. The Spaniard was a semifinalist in St. Petersburg, and he should be able to win this given Tomic’s poor recent play.
Alexander Zverev vs. John Isner
Zverev is a red hot 7-1 since Wimbledon, Isner is playing for the first time since a third round exit at the US Open. The American should be well rested, and Zverev will have a tough time breaking his serve, but the German has made rapid improvements in his game this year while Isner has been disappointing. Look for Zverev to continue his momentum and snatch a win.
(10)David Ferrer vs. Feliciano Lopez
Ferrer has won seven straight against Lopez and should roll in this contest over the struggling Spaniard who may not be fit. Still it’s an interesting style contrast, and with Ferrer coming off a semifinal loss in Beijing, it will be interesting to see if he can continue his improved play. The veteran has had his worst season in years and needs to finish strong.
Gilles Simon vs. Pablo Carreno Busta
Simon and PCB have split meetings this year. The Frenchman is a more accomplished veteran but I’m tipping the Beijing quarterfinalist PCB in an upset. He’s improved his hard court game by leaps and bounds this year and has positive momentum after upsetting Tomic and Gasquet last week.
(11)David Goffin vs. (WC)Juan Martin Del Potro
Goffin battles hard and he’s into the final in Tokyo, but Del Potro has the ability to blow him off the court with his power game. The Argentine is now up to #66 in the world, but he still needed a wild card here and could really do some damage if he’s fit.
Novak Djokovic is playing again for the first time since the US Open. The World #1 is a three time and defending Shanghai Champion and he’ll start his effort to repeat against either Fabio Fognini or Albert Ramos. Fognini dominates Ramos in the h2h but isn’t in great form, so even if he wins in round 1, Novak should win their match. Dimitrov/Gasquet will face Ivo Karlovic or a qualifier in round 2. Karlovic could really trouble Novak in the third round, but I feel Gasquet will slip his way into round 3 before falling to Djokovic.
Tomas Berdych will face Marcel Granollers or a qualifier with current Tokyo finalist Nick Kyrgios slated to face him in a scintillating third round matchup. Kyrgios opens with Sam Querrey, and then Ze Zhang or a qualifier in round 2. Both players are in good form, but I favor Berdych as he’ll be pushing to qualify for London.
Beijing quarterfinalist Rafael Nadal has never won Shanghai, and could really use a pair of routine wins over Viktor Troicki (or a qualifier), and most likely Bautista Agut to gain some momentum. Tomic, a qualifier, or a struggling Stephane Robert are also in this section, but it’s clearly Nadal’s to lose.
The section below Rafa is stacked, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic, and Zverev/Isner all feature. The Tokyo semifinalist Cilic gets the bye, and is in the quest to qualify for London. I have him defeating Zverev in round 2, and then doing the same over Tsonga, who should beat Florian Mayer and Janko Tipsarevic or Philipp Kohlschreiber. Tsonga is playing for the first time since the US Open, while neither Tipsarevic or Kohlschreiber are playing their best.
Stan Wawrinka will face Federico Delbonis or a qualifier, with Carreno Busta likely to make round 3 as long as he beats Simon. Pablo Cuevas or Di Wu are not as good on hard courts. Wawrinka should ease his way into the 4th round.
Milos Raonic suffered an ankle injury in Beijing, and barring a shocking recovery, if he plays on I still think he’ll lose to a struggling Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, presuming GGL extends his winning streak over Paolo Lorenzi. Ferrer should dispatch Jack Sock, along with Lopez, then GGL (or Raonic) to win this section.
Andy Murray will face Steve Johnson or Martin Klizan in his first match, Lucas Pouille looks to be the toughest competition in his section and would love a crack at Murray in round 3. The young Frenchman will need to beat Fernando Verdasco, and a qualifier or Nicolas Almagro to get that far. Murray is in the Beijing final currently and his form looks good enough to beat Johnson, and then Pouille in round 3. Neither Spaniard in this section is playing well.
Gael Monfils will face Kevin Anderson or Chinese wild card Zhe Li, he should win that match over Anderson before facing Del Potro in round 3. Joao Sousa or Benoit Paire are also here, Paire has been tanking this Fall while Sousa reached the Tokyo quarters. I see Del Potro defeating Monfils to post another solid ATP run. Monfils may be tired after reaching the semis in Tokyo.
Dark Horse: Alexander Zverev
Zverev could reach the quarterfinals and face off with Nadal if he can upset Cilic and Tsonga in ensuing matches. The young German is has risen to great heights this year and continues to improve with every match. He is a future top 10 player, but I’m not sure he’s quite ready to make a run in Shanghai.
Djokovic d. Berdych
Cilic d. Nadal
Wawrinka d. Ferrer
Del Potro d. Murray
Djokovic and Wawrinka should be favorites to reach the semis, Del Potro beat Murray in the Davis Cup and given the fatigue factor I see him making another Semi. Nadal was shaky in Beijing, and Cilic could really use a run to the semis for his ranking points so I see him upsetting Rafa.
Djokovic d. Cilic
Del Potro d. Wawrinka
I’m bullish on Del Potro despite Stan winning their US Open match, while Djokovic should reach this final.
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Djokovic would be troubled by Wawrinka, but I still think he’s a more consistent returner than Del Potro and can find a way to win.