This is the ninth edition of the Shanghai Masters and while there are a number of missing stars, such as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, there is still plenty of action from the best players in the world. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the headline acts. They are joined by next generation players, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov, and up-and-comers Denis Shapovalov and Wu Yibing. All the action starts this Sunday.
Federer and Nadal are rightfully the two to beat. They have both had astonishing years, especially considering twelve months ago they were injured and absent from the tour. Between them they won all of the 2017 Grand Slams and they are ranked one and two in the world. Their dominance has seen them win 92 matches and only suffer 10 defeats against all other opponents this year.
Nadal and Federer haven’t played much since the US Open, where Nadal won and Federer lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals. That won’t worry either of them as they have played well in tournaments with limited preparations. The likelihood of them meeting each other at the pointy end is high, and Federer will take confidence from the fact that he is three from three against Nadal this year. It will take something special for someone to knock them both over.
Alexander Zverev has had a breakout season. He has climbed into the top five and secured five titles this year. His form has slightly tapered since he defeated Federer in the final at Montreal. After a disappointing second round exit at the US Open he suffered a similar fate at the Shenzhen Open last week. A long season on the tour could be catching up with the 20-year-old, but he has proven he can beat the best.
Dimitrov is on his preferred surface and will be looking to atone for his surprise second round defeat at the US Open. He entered the US Open with good form and a straight sets loss to Andrey Rublev ended his campaign ahead of schedule. Dimitrov’s three tour wins this year have all been on hardcourt, two outside and one inside. He lost to Federer and Nadal this year, however he pushed Nadal all the way and is capable of causing an upset.
Marin Cilic’s highlights this year have been a win at Istanbul and a final’s appearance at Wimbledon. Cilic’s draw opened up at Wimbledon and he made the most of it. Unfortunately, he was completely outclassed by Federer in the final, and he looks just off the pace against Nadal too. To win, he needs to be on and make the most of his height and aggressive stroke-play.
Thiem threatened to take the next step earlier this year. He defeated Nadal on clay in May and then made the semi-finals at the French Open. Five months on, that was his last semi-final appearance and he recently suffered early exits in Japan and China. It would take something special for him to knock over the best players in the world and win at Shanghai.
29-year-old Sam Querrey is at the top of his game right now. He is currently ranked fifteen in the world and that is a career high for the American. He lost a tight quarter-final to eventual finalist, Kevin Anderson, at the US Open and was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon, which included a stunning win over Murray. Querry produces great kick on his serve with his height and it will be a weapon in Shanghai. His most recent performance was a first round lost to Richard Gasquet at the Japan Open.
Australia’s Best Chance
Nick Kyrgios will once again shoulder Aussie’s hopes. He battled manfully against Belgium in the Davis Cup and reinforced his committed to the green and gold. The talent is unquestionable and his forehand can be lethal, however consistency still remains an issue, both during games and between matches. His first round lost to John Millman at the US Open typified his peaks and troughs as it came off the back of a final’s appearance in Cincinnati a week earlier. Kyrgios can do anything and is a dangerous opponent, so let’s see what he produces in Shanghai.
Murray and Djokovic have won six of the eight Shanghai Masters titles. Due to injury, neither of them are playing this year.
Federer has only one Shanghai Masters title next to his name. It was in 2014 when he defeated Gilles Simon 7-6 7-6. His only other final’s appearance was in 2010 when he lost to Murray in straight sets.
Nadal has only made one final at the Shanghai Masters. It was in 2009 and he lost to Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 6-3.