Federer Begins Shanghai Title Defence Wednesday Against Medvedev
Zverev to face Beijing champion Basilashvili
Novak Djokovic controls his own destiny this week when it comes to the World No. 2 ranking. But an early loss by the Serbian in Shanghai would open the door for Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro to be No. 2 in the ATP Rankings on 15 October. Federer will remain No. 2 if he wins his third Rolex Shanghai Masters title and Djokovic does not reach the final. Del Potro will achieve a career-high No. 2 if he claims the Shanghai title and Djokovic does not advance to the semi-finals. In all other scenarios, Djokovic is assured a return to the Top 2 for the first time since June 2017.
View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the following match-ups at the Rolex Shanghai Masters and vote for the players you think will win! Federer v Medvedev | Del Potro v Gasquet | Zverev v Basilashvili
Federer begins his campaign on Wednesday against red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev, who on Sunday captured his third career title at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Tokyo. Medvedev is 37-20 overall and 32-11 on hard courts in 2018, yet he’s seeking his first Top 10 win of the season against Federer. Del Potro is the only player on tour with more hard-court wins than Medvedev in 2018. The Argentine, who is 35-8 on hard courts this season, opens against Richard Gasquet.
Djokovic, Federer, Del Potro and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will return to The O2 in London 11-18 November for the Nitto ATP Finals. Four spots remain and the next man in line to qualify is 21-year-old German Alexander Zverev. Already a three-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion, Zverev faces a tough test when he opens play on Wednesday against Beijing champion Nikoloz Basilashvili. Also among the Nitto ATP Finals contenders are Kevin Anderson and Kei Nishikori, who compete for the first time this week against qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin and wild card Yibing Wu respectively.
Novak Djokovic’s unlikely bid to finish year-end World No. 1 is in full swing this week at the Rolex Shanghai Masters
Novak Djokovic’s remarkable late-season surge towards the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking has the potential to rewrite more than 46 years of ATP Rankings history. Should the Serb chase down current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal to finish atop the year-end rankings for a fifth time, Djokovic would set several new rankings marks.
No. 22 to No. 1: Djokovic fell to a low of No. 22 on 21 May – his lowest ranking since he was No. 22 as a 19-year-old in the week of 2 October 2006. No player has ever clawed back to year-end No. 1 in the same season from that low. The biggest climb to date was undertaken by Andre Agassi in 1999, when he rose from No. 14 on May 3.
Sluggish Start: Djokovic began 2018 with a 5-5 match record (also 6-6). The worst start a year-end No. 1 had in his first 10 matches of a season was Gustavo Kuerten’s 6-4 mark in 2000.
Pre-Wimbledon Titles: Djokovic would become the first player to finish a season No. 1 without winning a title before Wimbledon. John McEnroe (1982) won only one title prior to the grass-court major before finishing No. 1.
How bad does Novak want No. 1? “I am really glad that I put myself in a position to compete for No. 1 of the world,” he said this week in Shanghai. “And maybe four, five months ago, that was looking a little bit far from reach, but with the recent results, I put myself in a pretty decent position to fight for No. 1, year-end No. 1.”
Djokovic ended his 2017 season in late July due to an elbow injury. He returned in 2018 to play the Australian Open but soon after underwent right elbow surgery, which kept him sidelined until the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. Looking a shadow of his former self, he lost his opening matches to World No. 109 Taro Daniel and World No. 49 Benoit Paire.
His first significant result was a run to the Rome semi-finals (l. Nadal) and the Roland Garros quarter-finals, although his loss in Paris to then-World No. 72 Marco Cecchinato had many fans thinking that Djokovic was still well below top form.
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He mused about skipping the grass season but after dismissing those thoughts he reached the Queen’s final (l. Cilic) before winning his fourth Wimbledon title, beating Nadal 10-8 in the fifth over two days in the semis in one of the matches of the season before beating Kevin Anderson in the final.
In August he became the first singles player to complete the set of all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000s by winning Cincinnati in his sixth appearance in the final. Then came the dramatic US Open. Djokovic wilted in oppressively hot and humid conditions in the early stages of his first-round match with World No. 41 Marton Fucsovics and a major upset looked a strong possibility when the players split the first two sets.
But after rallying to beat the Hungarian and then Tennys Sandgren in the second round in four sets, he won 15 straight sets to take the title, beating 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in the final.
Should Djokovic win his fourth Shanghai title, on Monday he will move to 155 points of Nadal in the ATP Rankings, which counts points earned in the past 52 weeks. (In the ATP Race To London, which measures only points earned in 2018, Djokovic will trail Nadal by just 35 points.)
That would set up a high-stakes battle when Djokovic and Nadal are next scheduled to face off at the Rolex Paris Masters, beginning 29 October, in the final week of the regular season.
And there is every chance that the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking will be decided in the final week of the year at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November in London.
Did You Know? Pete Sampras owns the record for most year-end No. 1 finishes. The American finished World No. 1 for six consecutive seasons from 1993-98. The ATP Rankings were established in 1973.
– Joshua Rey and Graham Edgar contributed to this story
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows how Medvedev lifted his game in Tokyo
Some weeks, your serve gets white hot.
Daniil Medvedev is not ranked in the top 50 on the Infosys ATP Stats Serve LEADERBOARD over the past 52 weeks. In fact, his Return Rating of No. 40 eclipses his Serve Rating of No. 55.
The 22-year-old Russian served his way to the biggest title of his career last week in winning the ATP 500 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018. Medvedev came through qualifying to win seven matches, only dropping one set along the way. In his past three matches, against No. 20 Milos Raonic, No. 31 Denis Shapovalov and No. 12 Kei Nishikori, Medvedev didn’t drop serve – holding 29 consecutive times.
See Who’s Leading The Infosys ATP Stats Serve LEADERBOARD
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Medvedev’s five main draw matches uncovers five keys to why his serve was “on” in the Orient.
1. Win The First Point Medvedev used the scoreboard as a secondary weapon against his opponents, as he surged ahead 15/0 in 78 per cent (38/49) of his service games. He won 36 of 38 service games when leading 15/0 and nine of 11 when trailing 0/15.
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Winning the opening point of your service game typically “sets the weather” for the rest of it. We play a sport of getting ahead, which then creates pressure for the returner to do a little more than normal to break.
2. Close The Door The 6’6” Russian surged to a 30/0 lead 28 times during the tournament, and never once let his opponent back into the game to break him. In 2018, Medvedev has led 30/0 in 252 service games, but was broken seven times from that commanding position. There was no letting the opponents back into the contest in Tokyo.
Watch Highlights: Medvedev Upsets Nishikori To Win Tokyo Title
3. Win Three In A Row This statistic requires a double-take! Medvedev raced to a 40/0 lead in almost half (24/49) of all service games he played in the main draw in Tokyo. As a comparison, Medvedev has only led 40/0 in 27 per cent (173/640) of his service games in 2018, and 26 per cent (155/595) in 2017.
4. The 4x Factor In Tokyo last week, Medvedev hit four times as many aces as he committed double faults – with 32 aces and only eight double faults. That is an outstanding ratio. In 2018, he has hit 359 aces and 202 double faults, for a 1.8 ratio of aces to double faults.
5. Second-Serve Prowess In the 2018 season, Roger Federer leads the tour with second-serve points won at 60 per cent. Medvedev was from another world in Tokyo in this specific metric, winning a jaw-dropping 65 per cent (72/111) of second-serve points in his five main draw matches. For the 2018 season, Medvedev is averaging only winning 51 per cent (882/1722) of his second serves.
Medvedev is in action Wednesday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters against Federer in the featured night match. Another opportunity to serve up more success.
Medvedev’s ‘Stay Calm’ Plan Meets Federer In Shanghai
Russian looking to crack the Top 20 with a big week in Shanghai
Daniil Medvedev largely has the same shots that he did a year ago – same forehand, same two-handed backhand, same serve. But mentally, the Russian has morphed into a completely different player.
He used to be beset with anger issues, throwing tantrums on the court or picking fights with umpires. YouTube has some of his best hits.
But this year, Medvedev has found a way to keep calm, and the titles, along with the best season of his career, have followed.
The 22-year-old celebrated his third ATP World Tour crown on Sunday, beating home favourite Kei Nishikori in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships final in Tokyo. It was Medvedev’s first ATP World Tour 500 title, and he made it look stress-free, not dropping a set all tournament after qualifying.
“I know how to be focused only on tennis when I need to, and that’s why I started to play even better… This year it has changed a lot and I’m happy about it,” he said.
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“ATP 500 is definitely a different thing, beating indoor [great players] like Milos [Raonic], Denis Shapovalov and Kei in his hometown is something amazing… You never win easy but doing this with easy scores, with amazing level of my game, I’m just really happy about myself and I hope to continue improving in this way.”
The improvements, he said, have come from experience. Two years ago, if facing a fight in an ATP World Tour final, Medvedev would have folded, said, “Not today,” and shrugged his shoulders as he walked away with a loss. It almost happened in the third set of the Sydney final against #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur.
Read More: Medvedev Focused On Continuing His Rise
“I was two breaks up, 4-0, 5-3, my serve. De Minaur comes back, like always. Five-all, 0/40 on his serve, becomes deuce. Probably two years ago I would just said, ‘No, I don’t want this anymore.’ I would lose 7-5, but I managed to win it, my first title,” Medvedev said. “It gave me a big push in the year.”
Medvedev began the season at No. 65 in the ATP Rankings and was hovering around the 50s before he made a last-minute decision to play at the Winston-Salem Open in mid-August. The Russian beat Steve Johnson of the U.S. in the final for his second title.
Watch Highlights: Medvedev Upsets Nishikori In Tokyo
“Winston-Salem was a really big boost in my career, this season, because it made me go up the rankings straight into almost Top 30, and it’s definitely another level to be Top 30 than being in the 50s or 60s,” Medvedev said.
He thinks some of his recent success, though, during the North American hard-court swing occurred because of what he did just before stretch began. Medvedev proposed to his girlfriend, and they married on 12 September.
“If it happens like this, you propose to your girlfriend, and you win two titles, one ATP 500, become Top 25, it means that somebody is showing you that you did what you need to do,” said Medvedev, who rose to No. 22 on Monday. “The best end of the season of my life.”
Watch: That’s In Medvedev’s Bag?
The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist backed up his Tokyo title on Tuesday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, where he, despite feeling tired from his long week in Japan, remained calm to beat home favourite Ze Zhang 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4. On Wednesday, for the first time, Medvedev will play defending champion Roger Federer.
The Russian hopes Wednesday’s match goes better than their practice session did 18 months ago. “He was just destroying me,” Medvedev said with a smile.
“But it’s going be good… because I know that straightaway from the first one I will need to try to put pressure on him also, because that’s what he does. If I stay passive, if I’m just going to try to put the ball in the court, that’s not going to work out.
“It was my dream probably to play him once, because we all know that his career will not last forever… to play him in the tournament on the central court, especially in a Masters 1000, is something amazing.”
Chile’s Nicolas Jarry saved two match points against No. 6 Marin Cilic to earn the biggest win of his career on Tuesday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
The 22-year-old came from a set down and broke Cilic while he was serving for the match to advance 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-5. Cilic had two match points in the second set – at 5-4, 40/30 on Jarry’s serve and while serving at 6/5 in the second-set tie-break – but Jarry saved them both, benefitting in the tie-break when Cilic shanked a backhand wide.
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The Croatian then broke in the third and served for the match at 5-4 but couldn’t finish off the 6’6” Chilean, whose previous Top 10 win (2-1) had come against No. 8 Dominic Thiem in July in Hamburg.
Watch Jarry Hot Shot
It’s only Jarry’s second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 win, and his seventh hard-court victory of 2018 (7-6). On clay, he reached the Brasil Open final in February (l. to Fognini) and semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro, Hamburg and Kitzbuhel.
Cilic stumbled near the finish line last week as well. During his second-round match in Tokyo, the Croatian served for the match twice but fell in three sets to German Jan-Lennard Struff.
The Croatian is looking to secure his fourth appearance – and third consecutive – at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November at The O2 in London. He is currently in sixth place in the ATP Race To London; the top eight will qualify for the season finale.
Jarry will next meet Brit Kyle Edmund or Italian Andreas Seppi. Cilic’s countryman Borna Coric advanced 6-4, 6-2 against Bradley Klahn of the U.S. Coric will next face Richard Gasquet or third seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Ebden Records Biggest Career Win, Upsets Thiem In Shanghai
Gasquet, Edmund through to the second round
In 2012, Matthew Ebden defeated then-World No. 8 Mardy Fish in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in a career-best victory. That personal record, which stood for over six and a half years, was broken on Tuesday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
The 30-year-old Australian, a quarter-finalist in Shanghai seven years ago, rolled back the years to shock World No. 7 Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(4) in two hours and 45 minutes. Ebden hit 14 aces and saved six of nine break points en route to victory, recording his 18th win in 36 tour-level encounters this season.
Standing between Ebden and a return to the last eight in Shanghai will be Peter Gojowczyk. The German advanced by almost exactly the same scoreline, edging Marton Fucsovics 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(5). Ebden leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Gojowczyk 1-0, beating the Munich-born 29-year-old en route to his only tour-level final appearance at Newport last year.
Thiem, who leads the ATP World Tour with 48 match wins, was aiming to reach the third round in Shanghai for the first time. A winner of three tour-level trophies this season, Thiem drops to 3-8 in China.
Ebden, after falling behind an immediate break of serve in the opening game of the match, quickly rallied to rebalance the score in the following game before manufacturing two set points in the tenth game. The Australian converted his opportunity with depth into Thiem’s backhand wing to move one set ahead.
A tie-break was needed to decide the outcome of the set, after Ebden recovered a service break in the sixth game, with Thiem eventually prevailing. Ebden saved three set points with brave serving and net play, before Thiem finally converted his fourth chance with a strong forehand approach.
Ebden served for the match at 6-5 in the decider after capitalising on consecutive backhand errors from Thiem in the tenth game, but could not convert a match-point opportunity before surrendering his serve. But the Perth resident soon emerged victorious, with big serving in important moments to confirm victory.
Richard Gasquet recovered from a slow start to book his place in the second round, beating Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 1-6, 6-2, 6-1. The 2017 quarter-finalist, who won just 5 of 15 service points in the first set, converted four of five break points to eventually cruise into the second round after 89 minutes. Gasquet now leads the Hamburg runner-up 2-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and will face China Open finalist Juan Martin del Potro for a spot in the third round.
Kyle Edmund booked his place in the second round for the third straight year, defeating Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 6-3. The British No. 1 landed 11 aces and saved four of five break points to set up a third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting of the season, and fourth overall, against Andreas Seppi of Italy.
Basilashvili Extends Winning Streak, Beats Shapovalov In Shanghai
De Minaur, Chung through to the second round
Nikoloz Basilashvili extended his winning streak to six matches by beating Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. The Georgian knocked out #NextGenATP Canadian Shapovalov 6-2, 6-2 in just 58 minutes for his first victory in three visits to the Qi Zhong Stadium. He next faces fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev, a contender for the Nitto ATP Finals in November, in the second round.
Basilashvili denied World No. 19 Shapovalov an opportunity to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Milan from 6-10 November, and he improved to a 28-25 record on the season (6-2 against Top 20 opponents since 22 July). He also beat Shapovalov 6-2, 6-4 in the Budapest second round on 26 April. Last week, Basilashvili lifted the China Open trophy in Beijing (d. Del Potro), adding to another ATP World Tour 500 crown at the German Tennis Championships 2018 presented by Kampmann in Hamburg (d. L. Mayer).
Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who is currently one spot behind Shapovalov in fourth position in the ATP Race To Milan, booked his spot in the second round with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Vasek Pospisil in one hour and 52 minutes. De Minaur, who also beat the Canadian in August at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., now faces Benoit Paire of France.
Elsewhere, last year’s inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals champion, Hyeon Chung, defeated Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in one hour and 39 minutes and meets Marco Cecchinato, the No. 16 seed from Italy, in the second round.