The penultimate of the ATP Masters tournaments for 2016, the Shanghai Rolex Masters will begin on the 9th of October, 2016. The tournament will have valuable points up for grabs, especially key for players going into the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the reigning champion in Shanghai, is the top seed, and has a first-round bye. He will play the winner of the match between Italy’s Fabio Fognini and Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.
Fognini is widely expected to be the victor in the latter, putting Djokovic in an advantageous position – of the eight matches Djokovic and Fognini have faced off against each other in, the Serb has won seven.
The last time Fognini beat Djokovic was in 2006; the World No. 1 has beat the Italian in straight sets in each of the pair’s last three meetings.
14th seed Richard Gasquet is also in the top quarter; Djokovic could face stiff competition from a number of big-hitters, among them Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dimitrov. The 25-year-old Bulgarian ace only yesterday took victory over an in-form Rafael Nadal despite the Spaniard having won every single one of the pair’s past matches.
Also in Djokovic’s quarter is top-10 player Tomas Berdych, who took a hiatus from tennis following surgery for appendicitis, immediately returning to win the ATP title at Chengdu; the Czech has struggled with injury and consistency this year, however, and could have a number of tough opponents in his quarter.
Berdych and Nick Kyrgios both find themselves in the first quarter here; Kyrgios, despite other issues, has played strong, consistent tennis all year, today beating the higher-ranked Gael Monfils to progress to the finals of the ATP500 Rakuten Japan Open, which he will play against David Ferrer; a win there would be the biggest career title so far for either player.
Another surprise in that quarter, however, could come from the big-serving American Sam Querrey; his biggest win this year was a well-fought victory over Novak Djokovic, who Querrey ousted from Wimbledon in a two-day, five-set match.
Headling the second quarter is fourth seed Rafael Nadal, who also has a first round bye and will likely face Viktor Troicki in his first-round match. The seond quarter here sees a number of strong, in-form rivals for the Spaniard, however, and he will have to fight for a quarter-final finish.
Among his biggest competitors in that quarter will be three big-servers – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Croat Marin Cilic, who have both been playing a strong game of late, while John Isner could also combat the Spaniard.
Another possible contender to end Nadal’s quarter-final run is German ace Alexander Zverev. The teenager recently beat an in-form Stan Wawrinka, fresh off his US Open title win, at the ATP250 St Petersburg Open earlier this year,winning his career-first ATP title there. 19-year-old Zverev is the youngest player in the ATP Top 30, and one of a select list of players to win their first title in their teens.
Zverev won that title after making his third final of the year, and has taken three top-10 victories this year – the first of them over Roger Federer on the Swiss legend’s pet surface, grass, at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, and could well combat Nadal.
At the top of the third quarter is Canadian ace Milos Raonic, who is the fifth seed here and will face either Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Paolo Lorenzi in Round 1. The biggest competition for Raonic here willl come from Stan Wawrinka, who won his third Grand Slam title at the US Open this year, with a systematic, hard-fought dismantling of defending champion Novak Djokovic. He also reached the finals at St. Petersburg soon after, his 11th ATP final in a row, although that streak was ended by Alexander Zverev
Third seed Wawrinka has announced himself as one of the players to beat this year, not only because of his form, but the seemingly structured way in which he has beat opponents this season; he has also seemed to have a significantly improved stamina, which stands him in good stead going into the World Tour Finals.
Wimbledon winner Andy Murray, who is seeded second, and US Open semi-finalist Gael Monfils are the biggest players in the bottom quarter. Monfils recently made the semi-finals of the ATP500 Rakuten Japan Open, before losing to Australian ace Nick Kyrgios, but despite his injuries has moved back up the rankings this year, and is well-positioned in the race to London.
Monfils is seeded sixth.
Andy Murray should find a simple route the quarter-finals, but young Frenchman Lucas Pouille is on the back of perhaps the best season of his career so far, having taken a surprise victory over Rafael Nadal in 2016.
Juan Martin del Potro will be a wildcard at the tournament this year. Beginning the year in the 200s, the tall Argentine, a former US Open winner, has fought his way back up to 66th in the rankings, and finished in the semi-finals of the US Open this year with a tough loss to eventual champion Wawrinka.
Given his resurgence, we could see the Argentine move through the tournament. He will have a tough opponent up first in the 14th – ranked David Goffin of Belgium.
Goffin has been able to take a number of his rivals in the 2016 season to tiebreaks, but has not been able to capitalize effectively when he regains power; up against a powerful hitter in Del Potro, the Belgian could well crumble early on.
Fans would see an interesting battle should Murray and Del Potro progress to fight each each other in the quarter-finals.
Roger Federer, who is on hiatus from tennis until the 2017 Hopman Cup, a team tennis tournament in Australia
Kei Nishikori, who was top seeded at the Japan Open but was forced to retire with a serious injury.