The biggest men’s event in Asia kicks off this weekend with the start of the 2013 Shanghai Tennis Masters. And all the top players are there, minus only Andy Murray who’s out due to back surgery.
Novak Djokovic lost his No. 1 ranking on Saturday but he’ll take it after beating his nemesis, Rafael Nadal, earlier today in comprehensive fashion to win a fourth Beijing title.
Djokovic now turns his attention to defending Shanghai, a much bigger event and one he needs to win if he wants to have any chance of finishing No. 1. And his road looks pretty good. Djokovic will open with either Janko Tipsarevic or Marcel Granollers, then Tommy Robredo before either Roger Federer or a rematch with Richard Gasquet. Federer should get through either Hewitt or Seppi but Gasquet is an intriguing match. Richard’s been playing really well of late while Federer’s been struggling. Still, I’ll take the Swiss to beat Richard but he won’t have enough to overcome Novak.
With Murray out, the slumping David Ferrer takes the No. 3 seed. The Spaniard might be the highest seed in that second quarter but to me JW Tsonga in the man to beat. The Frenchman meets Andujar to start, then it’s a toss-up among Nishikori/Dimitrov, Melzer/Dodig. We haven’t heard much of Grigor lately and Nishikori’s been in a rut, too, so maybe Dodig comes through? Hard to say but even though he’s just returning to action I still like Tsonga. For Ferrer, he’ll open against Rosol who could knock him out. If Lukas doesn’t do it I think Simon will in the third. Then I’ll go Tsonga over Simon in the quarters.
Moving to the bottom half, big men Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro anchor a tough, treacherous third quarter. With Berdych having back issues I’ll take Delpo here. Kolhscrhreiber will be tough, then the Haas/Querrey winner (I think Haas) before Berdych, assuming that back is okay. And I like Delpo over Berdych.
In the Nadal quarter, the new No. 1 will likely have to go through Dolgopolov, Isner and then Raonic who I think beats Stan Wawrinka. It’s not easy. The question for Nadal will be how much energy he wants to expend. And that minor knee scare in Beijing won’t help. If he’s 100% committed then I think he’ll be fine, otherwise he has plenty of opportunities to stumble and with an aggressive schedule ahead who could blame him.
So right now my semifinals look like Djokovic-Tsonga, Delpo-Nadal. And I think Djokovic takes the tournament beating Delpo in the final.
Novak win over Rafa in Beijing should really help his confidence here and I think he rides it to another title. With Murray on the mend, Federer flailing there’s really just Nadal and Del Potro as his true competition and both those guys fell on the other side of the draw.
Tennis Channel will have wall-to-wall coverage starting at 2am ET tonight for you night owl types.
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