2013 ATP Shanghai Preview, Predictions

2013 ATP Shanghai Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

Shanghai Rolex Masters

The pinnacle of the Asian swing, the Masters 1000 event in Shanghai on hardcourts starts today.

Shanghai Rolex Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Shanghai, China
October 6-October 13, 2013
Prize Money: $3,849,445

Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Rafael Nadal
3: David Ferrer
4: Tomas Berdych
5: Roger Federer
6: Juan Martin Del Potro
7: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
8: Stanislas Wawrinka

Rafa Nadal has returned to number one after reaching the Beijing final, and Del Potro and Federer have switched spots, but that isn’t reflected in the draw this week.

First round matchups to watch:

(9)Richard Gasquet vs. Vasek Pospisil

Gasquet
Gasquet should be a heavy favorite in this one, but after being routined by Novak Djokovic again in Beijing where he reached the semis, you have to be on the lookout for a possible letdown here against the dangerous floater Pospisil.
Vasek nearly knocked off David Ferrer in Beijing, but came up just short again in another big match. The up and coming Pospisil continues searching for big name scalps and Gasquet fits the bill.

(WC)Lleyton Hewitt vs. Andreas Seppi

Lleyton Hewitt routined Tommy Haas in Beijing before falling totally flat and winning a mere 2 games in his next match against Fabio Fognini. Basically, you never know what kind of form the Aussie is going to be in from day to day at this point. Seppi, meanwhile is 0-2 post-US Open, though he does have a 2-1 hard court h2h edge over Hewitt. Again, this match basically comes down to which Hewitt shows up.

(13)Gilles Simon vs. Benoit Paire

The two Frenchmen have split meetings this year, and this will likely be the rubber match. Paire won their indoor meeting at the start of the year in Montpellier, and overall has a 2-1 h2h edge. However, his form is questionable, as he last played the Orleans challenger in France and has not been on the Asian swing until now. Simon won Metz and did well in Bangkok, but pulled out of Tokyo with a mild injury caused by fatigue. Hopefully he will be back in full form, as he has struggled with injury issues this year and in the past. Expect a spirited match, and I think Simon slips past his countryman.

(12)Kei Nishikori vs. Grigor Dimitrov

The first meeting between 2 hyped young players, Nishikori will likely be the favorite, though he lost earlier than expected in the Quarterfinals of Tokyo, after winning a couple of rounds. Dimitrov is struggling, having switched coaching teams and playing just one Asian swing event, Beijing, where he was dispatched by Roberto Bautista-Agut without trouble. Nishikori is dealing with some knee issues, but even then I think he gets past the struggling Dimitrov.

Jurgen Melzer vs. Ivan Dodig

Melzer has one favorable head to head win, on indoor hard courts last year in Memphis against Dodig. But Dodig has the form edge as he comes off semis in Tokyo, where he notably upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round. Melzer lost to Nishikori in round 1 of the same event in a close match. This one could go either way, but if Dodig serves well he should advance.

(11) Tommy Haas vs. Sam Querrey

Haas has a 3-2 h2h edge over the American, but they have not played since 2009 and form perhaps favors Querrey, who beat Mikhail Youzhny and Stan Wawrinka back to back in Beijing. Haas was, as mentioned, routined by Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the same event. Haas has struggled down the stretch and seems to have lost his hot form from earlier in the year. Perhaps fatigue is playing a part as he is a veteran player. I think Querrey grabs the upset.

Feliciano Lopez vs. Jarkko Nieminen

Lopez is ranked higher, but Nieminen has owned the h2h here, 7-3, including wins in every hard court meeting they have had. He made the Quarters in Tokyo while Lopez has been so-so, winning a couple of matches in Bangkok and then losing in the second round of Tokyo. This one could also go either way, and should be an entertaining southpaw battle, but I think Nieminen will notch the win.

Shanghai: Qi Zhong Tennis Center

Top Half:

Defending Champion and Beijing champion Novak Djokovic will play his Davis Cup teammate Janko Tipsarevic or Marcel Granollers in round 2, with Beijing quarterfinalist Fabio Fognini, a qualifier, Tommy Robredo or Albert Montanes awaiting in round 3.

Roger Federer returns to tennis against the winner of Seppi/Hewitt in what would be a classic and highly anticipated rivalry throwback If he meets Hewitt in round 2. The winner of that will face Gasquet/Pospisil, a qualifier or Gael Monfils in what is a pretty loaded section.

David Ferrer has been struggling, but he did make the quarters in Beijing and he will play Lukas Rosol or Bangkok finalist Julien Benneteau in round 2 before Simon/Paire or Florian Mayer/Di Wu.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga starts against Mikhail Youzhny in all likelihood, assuming Youzhny beats Pablo Andujar. If he gets past that, he’ll face Dodig/Melzer or Nishikori/Dimitrov in round 3. This is another competitive section.


Bottom Half:

Beijing finalist and new world number 1 Rafael Nadal has most certainly earned that ranking this year, having only lost once before the final in every tournament he has played a match in this year. Rafa opens against a qualifier or Alex Dolgopolov, who made the quarters in Tokyo and showed flashes of good form that has been missing most of this year. Nadal is 3-0 career against the Ukranian, and has never dropped a set to him. In round 3, Rafa vs. John Isner awaits, a rematch of the Cincy final. Isner just needs to beat a qualifier and Dmitry Tursunov/Carlos Berlocq.

Stan Wawrinka, who is chasing after the World Tour finals and trying to surpass Roger Federer in the rankings to become the Swiss number 1, opens with Kevin Anderson or Victor Hanescu. If he wins, he should expect Tokyo finalist and Bangkok champion Milos Raonic, who is on fire and opens with a qualifier, and then Fernando Verdasco or Ze Zhang.

Tomas Berdych retired against Rafa in the first set in Beijing. He will open with Nieminen/Lopez in what could be a troublesome match if Berdych isn’t healthy. The winner will get Bernard Tomic/Jeremy Chardy or Nicolas Almagro/qualifier in round 3. Tomic and Chardy are struggling, Almagro made the semis in Tokyo in a surprise and Berdych and Almagro always seem to find each other in these draws.

The Tokyo champion, Juan Martin Del Potro, opens with Philipp Kohlschreiber or Mao-Xin Gong, and then should expect Querrey/Haas in round 3, though a qualifier or Daniel Brands are options as well.

Dark Horse: Ivan Dodig

Dodig is in good form. If he can beat Melzer, and then either a struggling Dimitrov or a slowed down Nishikori, he will get Tsonga, who he just beat in Tokyo. After that, he should play Ferrer/Simon for a shot at the semis. This is an open section that is hard to pick, and he has an outside chance of making a deep run.

Predictions

Quarters:
Djokovic d. Gasquet
Ferrer d. Dodig
Del Potro d. Almagro
Nadal d. Raonic

Djokovic dispatches Gasquet once again. Assuming the Frenchman beats Federer. I really don’t think Ferrer is in good form at all, but Simon is a wild card with his injury issues. Either one should beat Dodig and make the semis. Also watch out for Tsonga/Nishikori/Melzer in the toughest and most open section of the draw.

Del Potro just beat Almagro in Tokyo and is playing well. Nadal shouldn’t have any trouble continuing to win matches.

Semis:
Djokovic d. Ferrer
Nadal d. Del Potro

Should be somewhat straightforward semis. Del Potro could trouble Nadal but probably not right now.

Final:
Nadal d. Djokovic

Expecting a US Open and Beijing final rematch, and thinking the same result as I have been predicting, Nadal is simply a beast right now and nobody seems able to tame him, though Djokovic will put up his best effort once again as he did in Beijing. With Murray out of the picture right now, these two guys seem to be on a collision course for everything and are the best two players in the game, bar none.

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