With just over four weeks to go until the ATP World Tour Finals, the world’s finest tennis players have all converged on Shanghai for the penultimate Masters 1000 tournament of the year.
With the top four already having qualified, there are four spots left for the taking - but realistically it’s going to be down to Gasquet, Isner or Anderson to steal that eighth spot from David Ferrer following his first round exit to Tomic (6-4 6-2).
Roger Federer is the reigning champion in Shanghai but following a shock second-round defeat to Albert Ramos-Viñolas - we're guaranteed a new champion.
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The Spaniard claimed undoubtedly the biggest win of his career with an imperiously aggressive performance against the Swiss maestro. Roger can rest easy though, knowing that his spot at the year end finals is already secure. Hopefully, if he reaches the final this year he'll feel up to it after he pulled out last year with a back injury.
Andy Murray (‘10,’11) and Novak Djokovic (‘12, ‘13) both won the Shanghai Masters in consecutive years, making them also the only players to have held the title twice. With both of them in the same half of the draw, if all goes to plan then we should see a rematch of the Rogers Cup final which Murray won - at the semi-final stage of the competition.
After his dismantling of Australia at the Davis Cup and a very solid showing in his second-round match against Steve Johnson, Murray should have the confidence he needs to challenge Djokovic for the title.
Djokovic will be looking to make quick work of Feliciano Lopez in the last 16, as he’ll be looking to store as much energy as he can for the semi-final clash we all want to see.
In the bottom half of the draw, Stan Wawrinka is coming into Shanghai straight off the back of winning the title in Tokyo. As the in-form player, he’ll be looking to breeze past Marin Cilic and set up a potential clash with either the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic or the seemingly resurgent Rafael Nadal.
Rafa put in a defiant performance against Ivo Karlovic, to hold on to win in three sets showed some tenacity which he has been missing in recent months.
Kei Nishikori fought past the marmite-esque Nick Kyrgios to set up a last 16 clash with Kevin Anderson - who put on the performance of his life to knock Andy Murray out of the US Open last month. The winner of that match will take on either sixteenth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or the man out to cause more upsets: Albert Ramos-Viñolas.
I expect the quarters to look like this: Djokovic V Gasquet, Murray V Berdych, Raonic V Wawrinka and Nishikori V Tsonga.
So all that’s left to wonder now is, can Murray or Djokovic capitalise on Federer’s shock exit and capture a third title? Can the other players earn any desperately need ranking points in the run up to London?
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