Shanghai Masters 2019: Roger Federer's expected route to the title
With only a few tournaments to go before the end of the tennis season this year, a victory at the Shanghai Masters will put Roger Federer back in the numbers game along with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. While Djokovic and Nadal have each won four titles this year, including Majors, Federer has only managed to win three - and without any Slam.
Standing alongside Djokovic and Nadal is the Austrian Dominic Thiem, who has also managed to win four titles this year.
Federer would have to fight hard to claim his 103rd career title as the draw looks a bit tough for the Swiss maestro. Let's take a look at how the draw is likely to unfold for Federer.
Everyone was expecting a Federer vs Marin Cilic encounter to begin the proceedings, but the Croat lost his opening round match to Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6,4-6. Interestingly, the Spaniard had defeated Federer in the same tournament four years ago, claiming his first-ever top 10 victory at that time.
Federer and Ramos-Vinolas are level at 1-1 in their head-to-head rivalry.
Federer's third-round opponent will most likely be David Goffin, against whom he has a comfortable 9-1 record. If Goffin loses to Richard Gasquet, Gasquet will face Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round and the winner of that match will face Federer. The Swiss holds a dominant 18-2 lead against Gasquet and 3-0 against Kukushkin.
It is safe to say that Federer will ease through to the quarterfinals without much difficulty.
Andrey Rublev is in the same section as Federer, and he defeated Borna Coric in the first round 6-4, 7-6(4). He will now face the winner of Guido Pella vs John Millman for a place in the third round - where he will likely face Alexander Zverev.
The young Russian is looking in great shape at the moment. Amongst all the players present in the bottom half, Rublev seems to have the highest chance of facing Federer in the quarter-finals.
If he does get there, Federer will have an opportunity for revenge as the Russian had defeated him in straight sets at the Cincinnati Masters.
If Federer defeats either Rublev or Zverev in the quarters, he will likely have to face either Dominic Thiem or Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinal. Thiem managed to defeat Federer in the Indian Wells final earlier this year and also in the quarterfinal of the Madrid Open.
After a brief loss of form, Thiem is back in top gear as he managed to win the China Open, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets in the final.
If Thiem does reach the semifinal, Federer will have a tough task on his hands.
After having to face players like Rublev and Thiem in the quarters and semis, Federer will likely have to face either Djokovic or Daniil Medvedev in the final. Djokovic will be looking forward to his match against Medvedev in the semis as the latter has managed to defeat the Serb twice this year.
While it will be a feast for the eyes to see yet another Djokovic vs Federer final, both the players have their own obstacles in the form of Medvedev and Thiem respectively before meeting each other. Now is the right time for the Next Gen to strike a blow over the dominant Big 3, with Medvedev being their torch-bearer.
If both Medvedev and Thiem manage to defeat Djokovic and Federer in the semifinals, the Shanghai Masters will crown a new champion and pave the way for the young players to finish the season strongly.
Federer's potential line-up
1) 1st Round - Bye
2) 2nd Round - Albert Ramos-Vinolas
3) 3rd Round - David Goffin / Mikhail Kukushkin / Richard Gasquet
4) Quarterfinal - Andrey Rublev / Alexander Zverev
5) Semifinal - Dominic Thiem / Roberto Bautista Agut
6) Final - Novak Djokovic / Daniil Medvedev