ATP Shanghai Masters Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Shanghai Rolex Masters features the best players left standing this season on the ATP tour battling it out for points and looking to influence the World Tour Finals standings. Here is your full preview with predictions.
Rafael Nadal has won 12 straight and should extend that winning streak over Jared Donaldson and Fabio Fognini/Lucas Pouille to reach the quarterfinals. Pouille nearly beat Nadal in Beijing, and would love another bite at the cherry. Sam Querrey faces an in-form Yuichi Sugita, then a hopefully recovered Benoit Paire in round 2, or Frances Tiafoe. Querrey should fall to Beijing semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, Dimitrov should beat Ze Zhang or Ryan Harrison to reach the third round. Nadal over Dimitrov in the quarters seems to be a sensible pick.
Nick Kyrgios/Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson/Pablo Carreno Busta will decide the second quarterfinal section. Kyrgios, presuming he’s fit, should keep up his good form with a win over Steve Johnson, Di Wu/Jeremy Chardy, and Cilic (or Kyle Edmund/Jiri Vesely). Cilic isn’t a pushover, but Kyrgios has a higher ceiling. Anderson will look to serve past Tokyo finalist Adrian Mannarino, who will probably be tired out, Mischa Zverev or J.L. Struff will follow, with Carreno Busta taking on Albert Ramos or Joao Sousa. I have Anderson reaching the quarters before falling to Kyrgios.
Roger Federer could be opposite the in-form David Goffin in the quarters, Goffin opens with Gilles Simon, Roberto Bautista Agut or Richard Gasquet are likely in the third round. I have RBA finding form to upset a tired Goffin, and then Federer winning in the quarterfinals. Federer will Diego Schwartzman or Jordan Thompson, and likely Jack Sock/Alex Dolgopolov in the third round.This is an interesting section but it likely will go as expected unless Schwartzman pulls off a shock.
The young guns section of the draw features Dominic Thiem and Alex Zverev. Thiem will take on Denis Shapovalov/Viktor Troicki, Zverev will face Andrey Rublev or Juan Martin Del Potro. Damir Dzumhur, John Isner, and Stefanos Tsitsipas are also in this section, I have Isner over Thiem and Zverev over Del Potro, with Zverv reaching the semis.
Nadal d. Kyrgios
Federer d. Zverev
Nadal d. Federer
Nadal is red hot right now and should be a clear favorite in Shanghai.
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.
The Shanghai Rolex Masters were again dominated by Novak Djokovic as the world #1 claimed his third Shanghai title, his ninth title of the season (five of them Masters 1000 level tournaments), and stretched his winning streak to 17 matches (73-5 record this season) with a 6-2 6-4 drubbing of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a surprise finalist.
Djokovic was untouchable this week, surrendering just four games in his semifinal against Andy Murray, and prior to that beating Bernard Tomic, Feliciano Lopez, and Martin Klizan without dropping a set. He’s put together the best season of his career, and was one match away from having the calendar year grand slam this season.
Tsonga found form and reached his second ATP final this Fall with wins over Tommy Robredo, Victor Estrella, Albert Ramos, Kevin Anderson, and Rafael Nadal. All but the win over Estrella required three sets to get the job done, and Tsonga was out of gas by the time he reached the final in what is his best Masters 1000 level result since taking home the Rogers Cup last Summer.
Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo took out Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini to capture the doubles championship. The title is their second in a row in China. Bolelli and Fognini are still almost assured to qualify for the World Tour Finals though.
Veteran Slate Qualifies for 2015 ATP Shanghai Main Draw Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
six of eight players from qualifying in the 2015 ATP Shanghai Rolex Masters Main Draw are veterans with plenty of ATP tour experience, as they will look to use that tour experience to help them pull off main draw upsets.
A pair of Asian players, Go Soeda of Japan, and Yen-Hsun Lu, a regular on ATP tour from Taiwan, made it through tough draws to qualify. Lu beat young Japanese speedster Yoshi Nishioka, and then Nicolas Mahut in three sets, while Soeda beat Fajing Sun, and then South Korea’s young gun Hyeon Chung in three sets.
Eastern Europeans also did well, Nikoloz Basilashvili will play, at least, his twelfth tour level match of the season after beating Shuichi Sekiguchi and the in-form Austin Krajicek, a Tokyo quarterfinalist, to qualify without dropping a set. Andrey Kuznetsov found success after coming up short in Beijing qualies. Kuznetsov beat Yecong He in three sets, and then dispatched Donald Young, though Young would go on to make the main draw as a lucky loser. Lastly, 33 year old Lukasz Kubot will play just his third ATP main draw level match this year after getting past a pair of Frenchman, Lucas Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert to qualify. Herbert retired in his match, while the win over Pouille was an upset.
Potentially dangerous tour veterans Simone Bolelli and Albert Ramos complete the list of qualifiers. Bolelli, who also qualified in Beijing, beat Matteo Donati, his countryman, and Michal Przysiezny in a three setter to advance. Ramos defeated Zhizhen Zhang and Michael Berrer without dropping a set.
In the main draw, Lu will have a winnable match against Dominic Thiem, Kuznetsov draws Feliciano Lopez, Bolelli will face Vasek Pospisil in an even contest, Soeda has a tough match against David Goffin, Basilashvili will face an equally difficult tilt against Simon, Kubot faces American Jack Sock, Ramos takes on Sam Querrey, and Young should be favored against Victor Estrella.
2015 ATP Shanghai Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The pinnacle of the Asian swing takes place this week in Shanghai with a Masters level ATP tournament in the Chinese metropolis. Most of the top names on tour are participating this week.
Shanghai Rolex Masters
ATP Masters 1000
October 11-October 18, 2015
Prize Money: $4,783,320
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (3)
3: Andy Murray (2)
4: Stan Wawrinka (4)
5: Tomas Berdych (5)
6: Kei Nishikori (6)
7: David Ferrer (8)
8: Rafael Nadal (7)
Only Gael Monfils and Grigor Dimitrov are absent in terms of top 20 players as Shanghai has an excellent Masters field.
Dominic Thiem vs. (Q)Yen-Hsun Lu Beijing quarterfinalist Rendy Lu (who is Chinese from Taiwan) is in good form and has a decent shot at upsetting Austrian #1 Dominic Thiem in this one. Lu is a consistent, all be it weaponless, ball striker who makes his living on hard courts, and he came through qualifying while Thiem has lost two straight and isn’t as sharp on hard courts compared to clay. Thiem is still the favorite, but I’m going with Lu to slip through in an upset, as his consistency should be enough to win the day.
(11)Richard Gasquet vs. Gilles Muller On hard courts Muller and Gasquet have a h2h tied at 2-2, and Gasquet won a three setter in Washington earlier this year against Muller. With that said, he got thumped in his opening round Tokyo match while Muller scored two big upsets and reached the semifinals. Gasquet is the more talented player but with Muller in far better form, I’m going with another upset in this matchup, as the edge should swing to the big serving Muller.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez Two Spaniards with streaky games and long names, RBA was a semifinalist in St. Petersburg and upset Gasquet in Tokyo, as he appears capable of playing quality tennis right now. GGL reached the final in Shenzen and has already found China to be to his liking, so this should be a high quality baseline contest. RBA has the bigger game and on hard courts I give him an edge over his fellow member of the Armada.
(16)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Tommy Robredo Robredo won the only h2h meeting against Tsonga back in 2008, and though Tsonga is higher ranked, and better in most aspects these days, the crafty Robredo is certainly still capable of top 20 wins at 33 years of age. Tsonga took the title in Metz but was shocked by Andreas Haider-Maurer in Beijing, while Robredo has an ATP quarterfinal and a semifinal this Fall. Though he also comes off a round 1 loss, Tsonga’s was far more shocking, and I’m going with Robredo in an upset, as I don’t trust Jo Willy at the moment.
Two-time Shanghai, and this year’s Beijing champion, Novak Djokovic is on fire right now and should extend his match winning streak to 13 over Martin Klizan in his first match, presuming the big hitting Klizan defeats Ze Zhang round 1. After that Novak should roll past Feliciano Lopez, presuming Feli defeats Andrey Kuznetsov and the Lu/Thiem winner. Klizan has given Djokovic difficulties before but he’s on a cold streak right now and the Kuala Lumpur finalist Lopez is 0-6 against Djokovic in the h2h, including a loss to him this year at the US Open.
Djokovic could meet David Ferrer in consecutive weeks in the quarterfinals. Ferrer, a Beijing semifinalist and Kuala Lumpur champion, has a lot on the line in his quest to reach the World Tour Finals, and opens with Bernard Tomic, after Tomic defeated Fernando Verdasco in round 1. Ferrer lost his last meeting to Tomic at Indian Wells this year but leads the h2h 3-1, and I’d favor him to get through again. The Gasquet/Muller winner will be favored to reach the third round, as I have Muller beating Gasquet, and Vasek Pospisil (with Pospisil beating Simone Bolelli), to setup a meeting with Ferrer. Both Pospisil and Bolelli are streaky, and have posted recent quarterfinal showings, but Muller is the best of the bunch. Ferrer hasn’t played Muller since 2004, but given his passion and fight at the moment, I can’t go against Daveed to reach the quarterfinals.
New world #2 Andy Murray is a two-time champion in Shanghai and opens with Steve Johnson or Andreas Seppi. Murray helped lead the British to the Davis Cup final, so his form looks good, but it’s unlikely that Shanghai is his biggest priority right now. Either Steve Johnson, or a struggling Andreas Seppi, are likely too weak to defeat him in round 2, but I like a player he’ll face in that DC final, David Goffin of Belgium, to oust Murray in the third round. Goffin has been in excellent form and hasn’t suffered a bad loss since the start of the Summer hard court season. He’ll open with Go Soeda, and then has the inside track to defeat Beijing quarterfinalist John Isner in round 2. Goffin and Isner have a 1-1 h2h, but Isner looked poor in that Beijing quarterfinal and usually doesn’t play well in Asia. The American #1 opens with a struggling Adrian Mannarino in round 1. Murray has a grass court win over Goffin, and he’s the better player, but D Goff should be slightly more focused and committed right now.
Joining Murray/Goffin in the quarterfinals should be either Tomas Berdych or perhaps Jack Sock, who serves as a dark horse in this draw. The Shenzen champion Berdych was shaky in an opening round Beijing loss to dirtballer Pablo Cuevas while Sock s 4-1 in his last five and pushed Rafael Nadal to three sets in the Beijing quarterfinals. Look for Sock to get past Lukasz Kubot first and then upset Berdych in their first ever h2h meeting. The American is on the rise, while Berdych has cooled off after a hot start this season and appears to be erratic right now. The Sock/Berdych winner should face Gilles Simon in round 3, presuming Simon beats Niko Basilashvili and Leo Mayer/Yan Bai. Bai has one of the best games in terms of the Chinese players, but he’s still a step below ATP caliber, and Mayer is struggling. Simon is 5-2 in his last seven matches and is in good form, but I favor Sock’s firepower in that matchup over Simon’s consistency. They went to three sets on clay this year in Rome, a surface that favors Simon. Simon was a finalist in Shanghai last year.
Defending Shanghai champion Roger Federer is also in excellent form and I expect him to have no difficulties reaching the quarterfinals. First up will be Sam Querrey/Albert Ramos, with Robredo/Tsonga on track for round 3. Ramos qualified and has a h2h win on outdoor hard over Querrey, but I favor Sam on this surface in round 1, with Federer rolling round 2. Robredo should beat Tsonga and Donald Young to reach round 3. Young is a lucky loser but has good enough form to beat Victor Estrella on this surface in round 1. Federer is 11-1 against fellow veteran Robredo and he should continue his trend of no losses to players ranked out of the top 5 since Madrid.
Tokyo semifinalist Kei Nishikori looks somewhat shaky right now and will be in the danger zone against Nick Kyrgios in his first match, presuming NK beats Andreas Haider-Maurer round 1. Kyrgios has a semifinal in Kuala Lumpur and a quarterfinal in Tokyo this fall, and Nishikori comes off a shocking loss to Benoit Paire in Tokyo. I don’t trust Kei’s health right now, and I’m going with Kyrgios to pull off another top 10 win to reach round 3. This is a rather open and interesting section, as Kevin Anderson will have his chances to advance to round 3 as a seed after a solid hard court summer, while Fabio Fognini looks to extend his 8-2 record in his last 10 matches and upset Anderson in round 2. Anderson should dispatch wild card Tommy Haas, while Fognini beats Joao Sousa, and then I have Fognini over Anderson by virtue of his better recent form. When Fabio is focused and tuned in, he’s a far different player than his usual self and he should move his h2h from 1-3 to 2-3 against Anderson. The combustible Kyrgios and Fognini have never met before, and besides fireworks, I’ll go with Fognini to notch another big win and reach the quarterfinals this week.
Tokyo champion Stan Wawrinka has his lethal backhand wiping away almost every opponent he faces right now. Stan should continue to be the man against Viktor Troicki/Pablo Cuevas (likely Troicki) in round 2, and then do the same against Marin Cilic in round 3. Cilic is 9-3 in his last 12 and should move that to 11-3 with wins over Di Wu and countryman Borna Coric in his first two matches, but Wawrinka should be sharper than Cilic right now. Coric comes off a 3 set win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in round 1 and has plenty of talent. Wawrinka is 8-2 against Cilic in the h2h and has won their last four meetings.
Beijing finalist Rafael Nadal will be susceptible to an opening match upset if Ivo Karlovic can get past fellow big server Jeremy Chardy in round 1. Nadal is 4-0 against Dr. Ivo, but they haven’t met since 2011, and on a hard court, the Karlovic serve can be lethal, especially if Nadal demonstrates the inconsistency on this surface he has all season. However I expect Nadal to reach the quarterfinals with wins over Karlovic, and Milos Raonic. The St. Petersburg champion Raonic opens with the wild hitting Thomaz Bellucci, and should be able to break the shock off an opening round Beijing loss to reach round 3 over the RBA/GGL winner, both of whom he should be able to out serve. Both Nadal and Raonic have had inconsistent seasons, but Nadal leads the h2h 5-1.
Dark Horse: Jack Sock/David Goffin, Fabio Fognini/Nick Kyrgios
In the top half, look for one of Sock or Goffin to emerge with a breakthrough Masters run, and likewise, in the bottom half, either Fognini or Kyrgios should be a successful sleeper. All four are talented players who have demonstrated good form this season, and lately. Should they catch fire, watch out. Goffin is one of the best pure ball strikers in the game, Sock has a world class forehand, Fognini likewise can whip the ball when he’s on, and Kyrgios hits with power, passion, and aggression from both wings.
Quarters: Djokovic d. Ferrer
Goffin d. Sock
Wawrinka d. Nadal
Federer d. Fognini
Djokovic beat Ferrer at this same stage in Shanghai last year and has drubbed him in their last four meetings, including last week. Goffin and Sock is a tough pick, but Goffin should be the more well-rounded player at the moment and have the consistency and mental toughness to advance. Wawrinka has last two meetings with Nadal, and though he’s still well behind in the h2h, he’s the better player, especially on this surface, right now. Fognini is a dangerous player for Federer to face, but he leads the h2h 3-0 and should prevail.
Semis: Djokovic d. Goffin
Federer d. Wawrinka
I’d be shocked if a healthy Novak didn’t reach the Shanghai final, should he face Goffin, he leads the h2h though Goffin took a set off of him in Cincy this year. Federer leads the h2h with Wawrinka 17-3 and won their last meeting at the US Open in routine fashion. He’s 2-1 against his national rival this year, and the old maestro should extend that to 3-1 on this surface.
Final: Djokovic d. Federer
Federer can win Shanghai, but Djokovic should, and most likely will. This matchup mentally favors Djokovic at this point, and though Fed may be able to pull this off, you can’t pick against Djokovic in China right now.