The tennis season's penultimate ATP Masters 1000 in Shanghai started amidst exciting tennis. And, controversy, of course, something that's been a rather normal occurrence lately on tour.
The day featured most of the opening round singles matches, providing some fine exhibition of tennis throughout the day's play. There was Stan Wawrinka, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gale Monfils, Nick Kyrgios and local rising star Yibing Wu to garner attention, which they did, for the most part.
Wawrinka struggled to carry on the momentum after winning the first set against 13th seeded Croat Borna Coric. He fell 64 46 36 after two hours of struggle, dropping to a meagre 12-9 in all-time Shanghai win-loss. Coric set up a tricky 2nd round clash against American qualifier Bradley Klahn. Klahn beat the mercurial Aussie Nick Kyrgios for a similar 46 64 63 win, in just 78 minutes.
While Klahn's win was a boost for confidence and ranking, it was marred by yet another Kyrgios show. And, by now, it should be clear that a Kyrgios show in a losing cause unquestionably refers to an unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Kyrgios was made aware of his lack of motivation by the chair umpire. He didn't take it well, and as a result, started lashing out on the umpire for the next 10 minutes or so. He had breached the unsportsmanlike line of conduct many times in the past in Shanghai, and today was nothing different.
Kyrgios is making a habit of throwing tantrums way too often now, and especially in Shanghai for the last few years in succession. it's not helping him either. His ranking has plummeted, his form has dipped, and there's no clear answer as to why he does what he does, or if he's going to care about the sports' image more than himself.
Meanwhile, on the main court, rising Greek talent Stefanos Tsitsipas dedicated his heart and soul to beat a threatening Gael Monfils 76(4) 46 64, courtesy some gritty and determined tennis. The 20-year old set up a mouthwatering 2nd round match-up against hard-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov who beat Steve Johnson in 3 sets on Sunday.
In Show Court 3, Milos Raonic's season isn't quite unwinding in the way he would've hoped for. He suffered yet another early loss, 36 75 36 against American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald. McDonald set up a 2nd round match-up with Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain who dismantled Russian NextGen star Andrey Rublev 63 64.
It was a mixed bag for American tennis, with 4 of their securing a win and one promising youngster suffering a loss. In addition to Klahn and McDonald, former Wimbledon semifinalist Sam Querrey beat 9th seeded Diego Schwartzman 63 64. He'll face another American, the 20-year-old Taylor Fritz, who defeated Dutch Robin Haase 63 76. The lone disappointment came in the way of talented NextGen 20-year old Frances Tiafoe's 63 46 36 loss to Matthew Ebden on the first match of the day.
Tennis-wise, the day belonged to Chinese rising star Yibing Wu, who, at 18, is tipped for good things in the future. And, he impressed with his all-round game and a 76(5) 62 win over Zhe Li, world number 254 from China. Wu will face Japanese and Asian superstar Kei Nishikori in the 2nd round.
Tuesday's schedule boasts of some big names and some exciting youngsters and veterans alike. Novak Djokovic steals the limelight for the day's play, but there's also the important match-up between talented Canadian Denis Shapovalov and recent China Open champion Nikoloz Basilashvili. Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem also feature in Tuesday's schedule.