Shanghai Masters 2019: Men's singles draw analysis
The Asian hard-court swing of 2019 will come to an end with the Shanghai Masters, which is scheduled to begin on 7 October. Both the top seeds triumphed in the tournaments leading up to Shanghai; while Novak Djokovic eased past John Millman to win his maiden title in Japan, Dominic Thiem came from a set down to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his first title at the China Open.
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Shanghai Masters owing to a wrist injury and Roger Federer will be aiming for a strong comeback after disappointing stints at the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open. Winning the Laver Cup for the third consecutive time might have lifted his spirits, and his performance in the remainder of the season will be a strong yardstick about his prospects for next year.
Let's take a look at the draw and some of the potential match-ups it has thrown up:
Djokovic is the defending champion and is the top seed in the tournament. He has been bracketed along with players like Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov, and Fabio Fognini in the top half.
Djokovic will start by facing the winner of the first-round match between Frances Tiafoe and Denis Shapovalov. Felix Auger-Aliassime, who has had a dream start to his career, might face Tsitsipas in the second round if he beats the qualifier Alexander Bublik in the first.
Auger-Aliassime had defeated Tsitsipas in the second round of the Indian Wells Masters earlier this year, and so this encounter will be one to look out for.
Andy Murray, who was given a wild card, will face the Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero in the first round. If he manages to win that match, he could face the flamboyant Fognini in the second round.
Murray produced a spirited performance at the recently concluded China Open as he reached the quarter-finals before losing to the eventual winner Thiem.
Taylor Fritz, who has had a rough time lately, has defeated Fernando Verdasco in the first round. He will now face Russia's Karen Khachanov in the second round.
Roger Federer is the second seed in the tournament, and last year's semi-finalist. Accompanying Federer in this half of the draw are Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut and Dominic Thiem.
Federer has a possible showdown with Marin Cilic in the second round. Even though Cilic is not exactly in top gear right now, the prospect of facing Federer could get the Croat pumped up.
Zverev might face Kyle Edmund for a place in the third round. Meanwhile last year's runner-up Borna Coric will have the tough task of beating the hard-hitting Andrey Rublev to reach the second round. Considering their form coming into the tournament, the Russian might have an edge over Coric in this encounter.
Another interesting first-round match is between David Goffin and Richard Gasquet. The winner of that match could face Federer in the third round.
Matches to watch out for
1) Felix-Auger Aliassime vs Stefanos Tsistsipas (second round)
2) Andy Murray vs Fabio Fognini (second round)
3) Alexander Zverev vs Kyle Edmund (second round)
4) Borna Coric vs Andrey Rublev (first round)
5) Roger Federer vs Marin Cilic (second round)
6) Novak Djokovic vs Alex de Minaur (third round)
7) Gael Monfils vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (third round)
8) Daniil Medvedev vs Diego Schwartzman (third round)
9) Alexander Zverev vs Andrey Rublev (third round)
10) Roger Federer vs David Goffin (third round)
Predicted quarter-final lineup
1) Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
2) Daniil Medvedev vs Karen Khachanov
3) Dominic Thiem vs Roberto Bautista Agut
4) Roger Federer vs Andrey Rublev
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:41 IST