We are winding down on the tennis calendar with just a handful of big events to come, one of them begins tomorrow in China with the Shanghai Masters.
Roger Federer (rest) and Andy Murray (back) both withdrew earlier leaving the field wide open and at the ready for someone to make a surprise Shanghai run and possibly cement a berth in the London finals. But who will it be?
Peering over the draw I think top seed Rafael Nadal is in trouble right away. If Ivo Karlovic gets through James Blake in the first round I think the Croat will beat Rafa. Ivo has absolutely been blasting serves at an unprecedented clip of late (78 aces!) and I’m going to pick him to keep it rolling and bank the upset. With Nadal out I like another lefty Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, to emerge into the semifinals. “Hot Sauce”, however, will have a tough time navigating through my man Gael Monfils and possibly Ivo in the quarterfinals. Some good first rounders in the section with Hewitt-Isner, Monfils-Mathieu and Blake-Ivo.
In the second quarter we find three very dangerous players: Juan Martin Del Potro, Robin Soderling and Jo Tsonga. DelPo seems to have lost his touch after a surprising upset in the first round last week in Tokyo. So between Soderling and Tsonga fourth round clash I’m picking the Frenchman. Ferrer-Gasquet sets up as in interesting opener in this section.
At first glance, the third quarter looks like Andy Roddick’s section, but is it? I think Roddick could in trouble in the second round against Stan Wawrinka and even if he gets through I think Fernando Gonzalez will be waiting in the quarterfinals. Nikolay Davydenko is always a tough out, but in a “pick-em” section I’ll take a flyer and go with Wawrinka to reach the semifinals.
In the bottom section, I like Novak Djokovic to get through over Gilles Simon. Marin Cilic is also in that quarter as well but if Tomas Berdych doesn’t get him in the first round, I think Simon will. Djokovic, meanwhile, should cruise over Ernests Gulbis and Tommy Haas.
That leaves my semifinals as Verdasco v. Tsonga; Wawrinka v. Djokovic. And my winner is Tsonga beating Djokovic in the final. Allez Tsonga!
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