Roger Federer, who beat the likes of Nick Kyrgios and John Isner in the singles matches at this year’s Laver Cup, will take the court at the Shanghai Masters in an attempt to resurrect his somewhat disappointing second half of 2019. He succumbed to early exits at Cincinnati Masters and the US Open in addition to faltering at the last hurdle against Novak Djokovic in the epic Wimbledon final earlier this July, and would want to get back to winning ways soon.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will begin his campaign in the penultimate Masters 1000 event of the year against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
In his first round match at Shanghai, the Spaniard upset Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4. He will have nothing to lose as he faces the Swiss maestro in the upcoming Round of 32 encounter.
Interestingly, their head to head record is tied at one apiece. It was Ramos-Vinolas who stunned Federer 7-6(7-4), 2-6, 6-3 in their last meeting, which coincidentally was also a Round of 32 clash at Shanghai - back in 2015.
Federer has recorded titles at Dubai, Miami and Halle so far this year, but the Swiss maestro has been going through a lot of trouble this year. His failure to win any important title since Miami might be an indication that he is nearing the end of his professional career.
At the age of 38, every loss would hurt Federer more than ever. His inability to close out this year’s Wimbledon final where he had two match points on his serve against the Serb, coupled with his recent loss to Grigor Dimitrov in the US Open quarterfinal, would have been major setbacks for him.
At Shanghai, where he is a two-time former champion, Federer would desperately hope for a turnaround in his fortunes. That would give him some momentum before he plays the Paris Masters 1000 and the Nitto ATP Finals to end the year.
On the other hand, Ramos-Vinolas will look to draw some inspiration from the sensational victory that he achieved over the Swiss maestro at the same venue back in 2015. With nothing to lose, he can swing freely and try to put pressure on the Swiss legend with his lefty groundstrokes.
Federer has the likes of Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, David Goffin and Roberto Bautista Agut in his half of the draw. His upcoming assignment against Ramos-Vinolas might be the only 'easy' match of the tournament for the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
But even this won't exactly be easy, as Ramos-Vinolas is an effective baseliner who can hurt Federer with passing shots from the baseline. The Swiss maestro would have to employ his aggressive style, keeping the points short and crisp, if he wants to prevent Ramos-Vinolas from getting into a rhythm.
Will Federer cruise to a routine victory in this second round clash, or will the Spaniard, replicating his 2015 performance, topple the 20-time Grand Slam champion? It will be interesting to see how Federer manages his emotions after going through a series of painful losses in recent times.
Prediction: Roger Federer to win in straight sets.