2014 ATP Shanghai Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The pinnacle of the Asian swing, the Shanghai Rolex Masters, which is also one of the favorite stops on tour for the players, kicks off overnight Sunday, and most of the big names are in action this week vying for critical ranking points at the end of the season.
Shanghai Rolex Masers
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
October 5-October 12, 2014
Prize Money: $4,195,895
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Rafael Nadal (2)
3: Roger Federer (3)
4: Stan Wawrinka (4)
5: David Ferrer (5)
6: Tomas Berdych (6)
7: Kei Nishikori (7)
8: Milos Raonic (8)
Of active top 50 players, only Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Fernando Verdasco, Lleyton Hewitt, Andreas Seppi, and Philipp Kohlschreiber are not playing in Shanghai this week.
First Round matchups to watch:
Lukas Rosol vs. Dominic Thiem
Thiem earned a big win earlier this season in Miami over Rosol, and he’d love to hand the Czech his sixth consecutive loss this week in Shanghai. The Austrian is carrying his own two match losing streak, and he was rather disappointing against Kevin Anderson in Tokyo, but I do favor him to recover and earn his second career win against Rosol.
Santiago Giraldo vs. Vasek Pospisil
Pospisil has a pair of wins over Giraldo this year, and given Santi has had a strong season, those are quality wins for the Canadian, both on hard courts. He played a spirited contest with Novak Djokovic in Beijing, losing in straight sets, while Giraldo is reeling from back to back losses, though he made the semis in Shenzen. Giraldo can certainly create some highlights but I feel Pospisil has his number and his form is steady, at the moment, so he should advance.
Richard Gasquet vs. Jeremy Chardy
Richard Gasquet should be on upset alert against his countryman Chardy. The Frenchman with the gifted forehand, Chardy, reached the quarterfinals in Tokyo and recorded a quality win over Kevin Anderson en route. The Frenchman with the gifted backhand, and more defensive approach, Gasquet, has lost two straight matches and was run off the court by Rafael Nadal in Beijing. Gasquet has not had a great year and he appears to be slumping at the end of it. Gasquet has a lone head to head win five years ago on a hard court, but I have Chardy in an upset in my bracket.
Yen-Hsun Lu vs. Marcel Granollers
Rendy Lu comes off taking the silver medal as the top seed in the Asian Games competition, while Granollers upset David Ferrer in Tokyo before falling to Steve Johnson in 3 sets in round 2. Lu has beaten Granollers twice this season and barring some sort of physical problem he should record a third win over the Spaniard.
Novak Djokovic will likely go into Shanghai looking to do a double for the third year in a row, as he is in the final of Beijing presently and a favorite to take the title there. He won Shanghai in 2012 and 2013 and he will open with the Rosol/Thiem winner. A match between Djokovic and the young gun Thiem would be entertaining.
In round 3, it should be Djokovic against Kevin Anderson or Tommy Robredo. Robredo lost a 3 setter to John Isner in Beijing, after reaching the final in Shenzen, and he is either in great form or exhausted at the moment. If you remember, Robredo upset Djokovic in Cincy earlier this season. Anderson only made it to round 2 in Tokyo, a disappointing performance. Robredo opens with Mikhail Kukushkin and Anderson opens with a qualifier. Potential qualifiers include the dangerous Viktor Troicki, Bernard Tomic, the rising Peter Gojowczyk, and young Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis.
David Ferrer has lost two straight matches, and the 2011 Shanghai finalist is in a bad slump at the moment. He will open with a qualifier or Beijing semifinalist Martin Klizan. Klizan played fantastic in Beijing, qualifying and then defeating Rafael Nadal en route to the semis, but he is likely to be too exhausted to produce similar results in Shanghai. He was meekly dispatched by Tomas Berdych in the semis there. Unless Ferrer falls to a qualifier, maybe even Troicki, who beat him in Shenzen, the Spaniard is likely to face Andy Murray in the third round.
Murray, twice a champion in Shanghai, made the semis in Beijing after winning in Shenzen and is playing great right now. The path for Murray to round 3 is a qualifier and Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Jerzy Janowicz. He beat Janowicz in 3 sets in Beijing, and the Pole likely wants a rubber match. It’s a hard section to predict, but a Djokovic vs. Murray rematch that Djoker just won in Beijing, is the most likely outcome in the quarterfinals.
Roger Federer is making his Asian swing debut in Shanghai. He opens with Leo Mayer or Di Wu, an easy start, and then one of Pospisil/Giraldo over Alex Dolgopolov/Roberto Bautista Agut. Dolgo struggled in his first match back on tour since injury, falling to Jack Sock in Tokyo, while RBA suffered a heartbreaking loss to Gilles Simon, also in Tokyo. He gave away multiple match point chances and had to retire in the third set due to exhaustion. I have a Federer vs. Pospisil round 3 meeting set, and then Federer through to the quarters. Giraldo and RBA also could make the round of 16, and Dolgopolov is capable of catching fire.
Possible Tokyo champion, and Kuala Lumpur champion, Kei Nishikori will play Jack Sock or a qualifier in round 2. The Japanese number one could be seeking his third consecutive ATP title, in what would be a spectacular feat. Sock was a quarterfinalist in Tokyo and is at a career high ranking. Unless Nishikori is suffering the effects of exhaustion from all of his tennis in the past two weeks, look for him to get through and face Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16.
Dimi opens with an out of shape and out of form Denis Istomin, who scored a couple of wins to reach the quarterfinals in Tokyo, and then Julien Benneteau or Ze Zhang in round 2. Dimitrov was a quarterfinalist in Beijing, though he didn’t play his best. That being said, I like Dimitrov over Nishikori and into the quarterfinals given the fatigue factor. A fresh Nishikori would beat Dimitrov right now on any surface, but a tired Nishikori should be a slight underdog, even with Dimi not at his best. Federer and Dimitrov are my picks to meet in the quarterfinals.
Beijing quarterfinalist Rafael Nadal, who played two good matches before being shockingly upset by Klizan, opens
with Feliciano Lopez or a qualifier. Lopez played terribly against Tomas Berdych in Beijing, and the qualifier will have an upset chance in that match. Nadal should face John Isner in the round of 16, the American will open with Pablo Andujar, then Steve Johnson or a qualifier. Johnson did well to make quarters in Tokyo and is improving, but Isner should be superior. A qualifier faces Johnson in round 1. Nadal should have a decided edge over Isner, though anything is possible.
Tokyo finalist and possible champ Milos Raonic, who is playing some great tennis right now, will open with Joao Sousa or Juan Monaco, with Sousa also playing well. Raonic could face Ernests Gulbis in round 3, though Gulbis is really struggling and retired with an injury in his last match in Beijing. He opens with the out of form Mikhail Youzhny, and then the Ivan Dodig/Pablo Cuevas winner. Dodig gave Kei Nishikori a quality match in Tokyo, and I have him facing Raonic in round 3, getting past Gulbis to get there. Raonic should be safe for the quarterfinals.
Stan Wawrinka was shocked in round 1 in Tokyo by challenger journeyman Tatsuma Ito. He will look to assuage the memory of that poor result against Gilles Simon or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Lopez was poor against Djokovic in Beijing. Simon made the semis in Tokyo and played very well but appeared tired out in that semifinal. I think Wawrinka will get it together and reach the quarterfinals, as possible round 3 opponents Fabio Fognini, and Donald Young don’t seem overly imposing. A qualifier is also in this section and Chinese wild card Chunan Wang. Look for Young to have a dark horse shot at the quarterfinals, as he gave Kei Nishikori a quality test in Tokyo.
Beijing finalist and possible champion Tomas Berdych will open with the Chardy/Gasquet winner. He should be in good enough form to get to round 3, where Beijing quarterfinalist Marin Cilic, who was dispatched by Andy Murray, is a possible opponent. Cilic needs to beat his slumping countryman Ivo Karlovic, and then the Granollers/Lu winner. Cilic vs. Berdych is a hard match to pick but given Cilic has won their last two meetings, both in grand slams (the US Open and Wimbledon), I have him winning for a third consecutive time and reaching the quarters.
Dark Horse: Donald Young
I have Young in the quarterfinals as a non-seed getting past a qualifier, Fabio Fognini, and Wawrinka in consecutive matches. Young has beaten Wawrinka before and both of their career h2h matches have been close, including a 3 setter in Shanghai in 2011. I feel Wawrinka is not playing near his best right now and DY can capitalize on that. He should lose to Cilic or Berdych in the quarters.
Djokovic d. Murray
Federer d. Dimitrov
Cilic d. Young
Raonic d. Nadal
Djokovic just handled Murray in Beijing with ease. Federer and Dimitrov are often compared to each other. Federer won their only meeting last year indoors, and Dimitrov didn’t appear to be playing that well in Beijing. Cilic or Berdych should have the edge over Wawrinka or Young, and Cilic is a player it is hard to predict form wise right now. Nadal normally dominates Raonic but I feel he’s still finding his form, so Raonic should get some luck and catch him in a beatable state.
Djokovic d. Federer
Raonic d. Cilic
Djokovic has generally had an edge this year in their head to head meetings and he tends to play very well during the fall swing. Raonic is too consistent for Cilic (or Berdych), assuming he’s not too exhausted. The Canadian’s consistency all year has been underrated, and Raonic beat CIlic last year on an outdoor hard court.
Djokovic d. Raonic
Djokovic is 2-0 this year against Raonic. Both of those matches came on clay though, and Raonic will have his chances, but Djokovic should be too good to not take the title in Shanghai.
Chris De Waard’s Picks
Djokovic d. Murray
Federer d. Dimitrov
Cilic d. Wawrinka
Nadal d. Raonic
Djokovic d. Federer
Cilic d. Nadal
Djokovic d. Cilic