After skipping the first two weeks of the Asian swing, Roger Federer joins his fellow rivals for an early fall feast at the Shanghai Tennis Masters. Along with Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych make up the Top 4 seeds in a very deep field – remember last year Federer and Djokovic missed the event.
In Federer’s section, he’s seeded to meet countryman Stan Wawrinka in the third round, then Marin Cilic or Juan Monaco in the quarters. It’s a good draw for Roger who hasn’t played since Davis Cup in mid-September and for someone dealing with a disturbing death threat. Rising Slovak Martin Klizan in also in the Cilic/Monaco section, he’ll play Tomaz Bellucci tonight.
“I have a lot of fans here,” Federer said. “I have not been here for two years because so many things in my life have changed, like having a family. I decided five days ago that I was ready to play here and I discussed it with my wife, because it’s important to have a happy wife. I am very happy to be back here, where I have had a lot of success in the past.”
Federer could meet two-time defending Shanghai champ Murray in the semifinals. The US Open champion was drawn into a pretty tough little quadrant. He’ll open with either Bernard Tomic or Beijing semifinalist Florian Mayer, then maybe Gilles Simon followed by either Richard Gasquet or John Isner in the quarters. It won’t be easy for Andy but after losing to Milos this morning I think he’ll refocus and get right. The Scot beat Ferrer in the final last year.
In the bottom half, with no Rafael Nadal or even David Ferrer, Berdych moves into the No. 4 seed role. And the up-and-down Czech is in perhaps the deepest section with JW Tsonga, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Sam Querrery. Tsonga could meet Raonic in the 3rd RD with the winner to play either Berdych or Nishikori.
Tournament favorite Djokovic has to be pleased with his draw. With really only seeds Phil Kohlschreiber (3rd RD) and countryman Janko Tipsarevic (QFs) in his way he should coast to the semifinals.
So after a quite check of the draw, I think it’s Federer v. Murray, Tsonga v. Djokovic. In the finals I’ll go Djokovic over Murray. If it works out that way Novak should all but wrap up the year-end No. 1 – he’d have over a 2,000 point lead over Federer assuming Novak wins Beijing tonight.
And I believe if Novak sweeps both Beijing and Shanghai he’ll return to No. 1 in the 52-week rankings. But that’s just an eyeball guess.
Among the absentees, in addition to Nadal/Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro, David Nalbandian, Mardy Fish, Julien Benneteau, Nikolay Davydenko and Gael Monfils are also out.
Matches begin tonight in Shanghai, Tennis Channel picks up coverage Sunday night ET.
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