The top men’s tennis players have gathered once again for the Shanghai Rolex Masters draw, with the exception of Novak Djokovic who will be taking a break after his record-breaking 24th Grand Slam victory. Carlos Alcaraz, on the other hand, will be aiming to reclaim the top spot in Shanghai.
The period after the US Open is typically a time for players to catch their breath, but now the excitement, money, and prestige of the sport are reignited with the Shanghai event.
Known for its fast hard courts, the Shanghai Rolex Masters favors big servers and hard-court specialists like Daniil Medvedev. Alcaraz and Medvedev, who had an intense match in the US Open semifinals, could potentially face each other again in the finals.
The Shanghai event features a sprawling draw with the top 32 players receiving first-round byes. Alcaraz, seeded at the top, will have a late start in the tournament after his successful run in the China Open.
In Alcaraz’s quarter of the draw, he faces no major challenges. He has a perfect 3-0 record against Grigor Dimitrov and Daniel Evans. However, Nicolas Jarry, a rising player known for his powerful serves, could be a dark horse to watch out for.
In Stefanos Tsitsipas’ quarter, the absence of Djokovic benefits him as a 4 seed. However, his current level of play doesn’t quite match his ranking, and off-court relationship drama could potentially affect his performance. Tsitsipas typically struggles on fast courts due to the vulnerability of his one-handed backhand, which could pose a challenge for him in this quarter.
The Holger Rune quarter sees the return of a recovering player who struggled with a back injury during the US hardcourt swing. While he may face some easier early matches, there are elite players lurking in this quarter that could test his progress.
In the Medvedev quarter, the Russian player stands out as the anchor. He has been performing well and playing himself back into peak form in the China Open. His baseline prowess sets him apart from his competitors in his eighth of the draw. A potential quarterfinal matchup to watch out for is between Medvedev and young American lefty Ben Shelton, who has never played in China before and opted out of the warm-up event.
In the author’s predictions, Alcaraz, Rublev, Hurkacz, and Medvedev are the players to watch in the quarterfinals, with Alcaraz and Medvedev expected to advance to the semifinals and Alcaraz predicted to be the winner of the tournament.