Andy Murray returns to Shanghai this week trying to lift his third title in as many years at Asia’s biggest tennis tournament.
Murray, who finally won his first Grand Slam title at last month’s US Open in his fifth grand slam final, now has the momentum.
This tournament and the following one in Paris are ideal preparation before he returns to London for the season-ending Masters Series final.
After defeating David Ferrer in straight sets in last year’s final to make it two wins in succession, Murray made clear how he struggled to adapt to conditions throughout the tournament. If Murray can win a tournament, only dropping a set and struggling with conditions, then it’s a warning to his fellow competitors this year.
Twelve months ago the line-up featured the majority of the world’s top players, but of the top seeds only Murray and Ferrer made it past the third round. This tournament comes after a month’s break where the only scheduled tennis was Davis Cup semi-finals. Those semi-finals only saw David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych enhance their reputations for the end of the season as they propelled Spain and Czech Republic into next month’s final.
This year the Shanghai line-up is stronger and only the injured Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro are missing. It means that eight of the top 11 in the world are in attendance. Rafael Nadal, who has not featured in a single tournament since his shock defeat in the second round of Wimbledon has assured the tennis world that he will be back for the Australian Open in January. There are those that suspect Nadal’s break may have been prompted by on-going knee problems.
Last week saw the world’s top players head to Japan and Beijing to warm up for the Shanghai Masters. Novak Djokovic edged closer to Roger Federer as he lifted the China Open by beating Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in straight sets 7-6 6-2.
In Japan, Kei Nishikori became the first home player to win the Japan Open when he beat Canadian Milos Raonic in the final 7-6 3-6 6-0. The big serving Raonic made amends for his loss to Andy Murray at the US Open by knocking out the British No.1 in the semi-finals before falling to Nishikori, the No.8 seed.
After a bye in the first round, Murray is likely to meet Bernard Tomic or Florian Mayer, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet or John Isner on his route to facing old foe Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Federer will have to beat his Swiss compatriot Stan Wawrinka and either Juan Monaco or Marin Cilic in probability to face Murray but their semi-final.
On the other side of the draw No.2 Novak Djokovic will have to beat Philip Kohlschreiber and Janko Tipsarevic before he can consider a semi-final place. The space left by the injured Rafa Nadal gives one quarter of the draw a very open and interesting feeling. Berdych is probably just the favourite as the fourth seed and after excelling at the US Open where he reached the semi-finals. With Tsonga, Raonic, Marcos Baghdatis and last week’s winner Nishikori all playing well, who meets Djokovic in the semi-final is hard to predict.
Shanghai Masters Betting Tips
Despite winning this tournament twice in succession Murray does not come into this week in top gear after losing in the semi-finals of Beijing last week. The only one of the top three to win there was Djokovic and for that reason he is the favourite, especially as he has the easier half of the draw. All of the “Big 3” should reach the semi-finals with Federer versus Murray too close to call.
- Take Novak Djokovic to win the tournament at 11/8 with Stan James.