Federer, Del Potro and Zverev in action on Blockbuster Wednesday in Shanghai Masters
Tuesday at Rolex Shanghai Masters was a day of upsets. Marin Cilic lost to fast-improving Nicolas Jarry, after winning the first set rather easily. Dominic Thiem lost to Matthew Ebden in another three-setter. Denis Shapovalov’s loss to the Japan Open Champion Nikoloz Basilashvili probably need not be seen as an upset. Novak Djokovic won his match against Jeremy Chardy in straight sets, but looked far from convincing, especially in the second set.
So, after an upset-laden Tuesday, are we looking at another day of the underdogs triumphing against their more fancied superstar opponents? Whatever happens on Wednesday, the tennis fans are in for a treat with three of the top 5 players in the world in action, headlined by the ageless defending Champion and fan favourite Roger Federer.
Let’s have a look at how their respective matches stack up against players who would definitely step on the court as underdogs.
Roger Federer Vs. Daniil Medvedev
Roger Federer has an extremely tricky opening round against the in-form young Russian player who is fresh off his first ATP 500 level tour title, defeating Kei Nishikori in front of his home crowd. Roger cannot afford to have a slow start, nor can he afford to relax when on top, as he has lost quite a few matches this year from winning positions.
But Medvedev looked a bit slow in his laboured victory against world no. 216 Chinese Ze Zhang. It’s possible that he is exhausted after his exploits at the Japan Open where he came from the qualifying round to win the title. Two matches back to back may be his undoing in tomorrow’s match against Federer.
What may inspire Medvedev tomorrow could ironically be the vociferous support that Federer will receive in his match tomorrow. And that is exactly the kind of situation that Medvedev thrives in. He has won all his three titles this year by defeating players in the finals who were playing in front of their home crowd. So, the crowd against him may spur him to do something similar. But having played matches non-stop in the last two weeks, to come and play against the Swiss maestro the day after a tiring 3-setter, may eventually be too much for his body to take.
Prediction: Federer to win in 2 Sets
Juan Martin Del Potro Vs Richard Gasquet:
Del Potro looked off-color in his surprising loss to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the China Open Final. After the match, he said he was unwell going into that match. One is not sure whether he has fully recovered. On the other hand, Richard Gasquet is coming off a semi-final show in the Japan Open. Even though he conceded the first set to Del Potro’s countryman Leonardo Mayer in his first round match, he looked majestic in the next two sets. If the affable Argentine is not fully fit, Gasquet is certainly capable of showing the door to the Tower of Tandil.
Prediction: Gasquet to win in 3 Sets
Alexander Zverev Vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili
In his last three ATP tournaments, the world no. 5 Alexander Zverev has lost in the early rounds to players with much less pedigree in Malek Jaziri, Robin Haase and country-man Philipp Kohlschreiber. Unfortunately, he has run into a player who is in the form of his life.
Nikoloz Basilashvili followed up his win over Del Potro in the China Open title match with a straight-set demolition of next-gen star Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the Shanghai Masters. He seems confident and determined to extend his winning run. It does not seem like he will be overawed by the reputation of the player on the other side of the court.
Prediction: Basilashvili to win in 3 Sets
Besides these three matches, Wednesday will see an exciting all-American generational battle with the veteran Sam Querrey set to play his young countryman Taylor Fritz. The match between two of the brightest next-gen stars, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov is going to be another highlight of Wednesday’s matches.
Bring it on.