PREVIEW: SHANGHAI ROLEX MASTERS
FEDERER, DJOKOVIC, MURRAY LEADS STRONG ATP 1000 FIELD
OCTOBER 8, 2012, BEEYONG SISON - World No.1 Roger Federer of Switzerland heads a strong entry field at the 4th Editon of the Shanghai Masters 1000 this week with the race for the year-end number one ranking in the spotlight.
Considered one of the world’s biggest tennis tournaments to be staged outside North America and Europe, the Shanghai Rolex Masters is one of only nine ATP Masters 1000 events in the world and is the culmination of the Asian circuit. It was named ATP Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
World No.2 Novak Djokovic, who dropped out last year due to an injury, is looking to do well as the second seed in the tournament riding on his recent Beijing title win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals.
Olympic gold medalist and US Open champion Andy Murray, who is the two time winner of the Shanghai Rolex Masters, is drawn as the third seed to meet Federer in the semi-finals at the beautiful Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena in Minhang District.
Rounding up numbers fourth to eighth seeds are Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Monaco and John Isner respectively. All eight seeds have been given first round byes.
Since Federer and Djokovic missed last year’s event, both have the chance to add substantial points on to their rankings.
Federer will face either a qualifier or wildcard Ze Zhang who stunned Richard Gasquet last week at the China Open in Beijing.
An all-Swiss third round match is possible with Davis Cup and Olympic Gold teammate Stanislas Wawrinka.
If he gets past his friend, the Swiss Maestro will secure his record Week No.300 as World No.1 entering the Swiss Indoors tournament next week in Basel.
Although Djokovic avoids playing Murray in the semis, his half of the draw looks to be a lot tougher led by Tsonga at No.5, Tomas Berdych No.4, and good friend Janko Tipsarevic No.6 whom he may meet in the quarterfinals assuming he gets past Philipp Kohlschreiber in the round of 16s.
World tennis' budding stars and Japan Open finalists Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, two of the youngest players to play in the finals in 58 ATP events this season, are stacked in the same quarter as Tsonga and Berdych.
Last week’s Tokyo semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis is also lurking inside Tsongas segment once the Cyprus-born talent gets past Italian Fabio Fognini.
Interestingly Nishikori may get another rematch with Berdych, whom he beat in last week’s quarterfinals, in the round of 16s if the new Asian hero gets past US Davis Cupper Sam Querry in the second round.
Meanwhile the big-serving Canadian looks to meet Tsonga in the 16s if he beats qualifier Marinko Matosevic.
Nishikori and Sam Querrey should have few problems with their first round Chinese opponents. Nikishori will meet Di Wu and Querry faces Zhe Li.
My final four match-up prediction: Federer vs Murray; Djokovic vs Nishikori; Raonic as my darkhorse. Tennis is definitely missing Rafa…hurry back!
WEEKS AT NO.1
(SOURCE: ATP World Tour)
If Federer reaches the quarter-finals, he is guaranteed of holding No.1 for the 300th week in his career on Monday. The players with the most weeks at No.1 in the history of ATP Rankings (since Aug. 23, 1973):
1) Roger Federer 299 (as of Oct. 8)
2) Pete Sampras 286
3) Ivan Lendl 270
4) Jimmy Connors 268
5) John McEnroe 170