Novak Djokovic leads the field at the 2019 Shanghai Rolex Masters (PA Sports)
Novak Djokovic could be on a collision course with Daniil Medvedev while Roger Federer faces early challenges at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
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Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer lead the draw at the Shanghai Rolex Masters but will the other top seeds Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem live up to their billing?
We break down the draw and predict the semifinalists.
Projected quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic (1) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) (1-1)
Defending champion Djokovic had to retire with a left shoulder injury in the fourth round of the US Open but has been on stellar form this week at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo, crushing all opposition on his way to the final.
Djokovic should be bringing the Tokyo trophy with him to Shanghai, where he’ll open against Frances Tiafoe or Denis Shapovalov – neither should be any threat to him on his Tokyo form. Nor is John Isner, whose days of beating Djokovic are long in the past and is having an uninspiring year, although he did win back-to-back matches in Beijing which suggests he might be able to get past Zhuhai champion Alex de Minaur in the first round.
Tsitsipas played well to make the China Open semifinals this week and had a couple of good wins in Shanghai last year, but he has been unlucky with the draw, which has him likely to face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round. Auger-Aliassime is 2-0 vs Tsitsipas and could well come through to the third round, where he would likely face Gael Monfils or big-serving Hubert Hurkacz.
There are some fun potential match-ups in this quarter but it’s difficult seeing anyone in it beating Djokovic.
Projected quarterfinal: Daniil Medvedev (3) vs Karen Khachanov (7) (2-1)
Daniil Medvedev, who has made the final of his past five events including the last two Masters 1000 Series events and the US Open, took a rare week off after winning St Petersburg but returns to action as the third seed in Shanghai where he could be the biggest threat to Novak Djokovic before the final.
Medvedev could open against Gilles Simon, a player he’s often said to resemble and one who has actually beaten him in their two previous encounters, but if he can get through that one, Diego Schwartzman (although another dogged counterpuncher) shouldn’t cause him too many problems in the third round.
Powerful Khachanov, a semifinalist in Beijing this week and playing quite well, has some unpredictable players in his path, starting with a potential second-round clash with Fernando Verdasco. Fabio Fognini is his projected third-round opponent in what would be a rematch of last week’s Beijing quarterfinal (which Khachanov won), but Fognini could well go out to Sam Querrey in the first round and the winner would face Andy Murray or a qualifier. With so many players who could do anything or nothing, it seems safest to envision Khachanov coming through after a good week in Beijing – and if Medvedev can’t get past Simon in the second round, he could even have a great opportunity to make his second Masters 1000 Series final of the year.
Former Shanghai finalist Bautista Agut is an ATP Finals hopeful and has had a great season, but has lost his opening match at two of his last four tournaments and retired in Beijing, so it feels dicey to expect too much from him – although the Spaniard has a very decent draw to the quarterfinals, opening against Reilly Opelka or Dusan Lajovic with Matteo Berrettini, who lost to Murray in Beijing, his projected third-round opponent. Pablo Cuevas and Jan-Lennard Struff are also in that section.
Thiem has shaken off a spell of poor form with a determined run to the Beijing final and though he has never played well in Shanghai, he has a draw to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time, projected to face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round. The Austrian should be able to take advantage of a good draw.
Projected quarterfinal: Alexander Zverev (4) vs Roger Federer (2) (3-3)
Zverev has been struggling in 2019, it’s been well documented, but he has looked a lot better this week in a run to the Beijing semifinals and was a Shanghai semifinalist in 2018. With Kyle Edmund or a qualifier as his first opponent, Zverev should be able to play his way in after a first-round bye.
Last year’s Shanghai runner-up, Borna Coric, is projected to await Zverev in the third round. Coric has had an up-and down season and although he played well recently to reach the St Petersburg final, went out early to Taro Daniel in Tokyo, so it’s tough to know what to expect from him. He also has the bad fortune to face Andrey Rublev, who leads their head-to-head 2-0 and played so well this summer, in the first round and it could well be Rublev who comes through to a third-round clash with Zverev, who has never lost to him.
Former champion Roger Federer returns to action for the first time since the US Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Grigor Dimitrov, and could face Marin Cilic in the second round – rather an abrupt welcome back to action, but he’s 9-1 against Cilic, who’s having enough of a nightmare year with knee injuries and so forth to be unseeded here. David Goffin, who played very well in Tokyo this week, looks likely to await in the third round – he too is 1-9 vs Federer.
Semifinals: Djokovic d. Khachanov
Federer d. Thiem
Final: Djokovic d. Federer
Shanghai Rolex Masters tennis is live from Shanghai from 6-13 October 2019
Shanghai Rolex Masters 2019 draw preview and predictions: Defending champion Djokovic could face Medvedev in semifinals
Novak Djokovic could be on a collision course with Daniil Medvedev while Roger Federer faces early challenges at the Shanghai…
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