Roger, Delpo Could Clash In Shanghai Semis
Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro have been drawn in the same half of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, raising the prospect of a rematch of their gripping semi-final battle one year ago at the Qizhong Tennis Centre.
Federer last year rallied from a set down to beat the Argentine in the semis before taking out Rafael Nadal in the final to claim his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
The Federer-Del Potro rivalry has been overshadowed over the years by the triangular battles between Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But their 25-match FedEx ATP Head2Head series – which Federer leads 18-7 - has produced some epic contests.
In 12 meetings since 2012 Roland Garros, 10 have gone the distance and only one has been decided in straight sets. Federer backed up his Shanghai semi-final win last year with a three-set win over the Tower of Tandil just weeks later in the Basel final. But Delpo took out Federer 7-6 in the third in the BNP Paribas Open final in March this year in their most recent meeting.
Federer and Del Potro, along with Nadal and Djokovic, are the players to have so far qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held in London 11-18 November. Federer is a six-time champion; Del Potro is chasing his first title and will be making his first appearance since 2013.
In Shanghai, two-time tournament champion Federer will begin his title defense against the winner of Russian Daniil Medvedev and China’s Ze Zhang. The Swiss is seeded to meet Canadian Milos Raonic in the third round, Kei Nishikori or Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals and Del Potro in the semis.
In his most recent appearance at the Masters 1000 level, Federer lost in the Cincinnati final to Djokovic. He has not played a tour-level match since a shock fourth-round loss to Australian John Millman at the US Open.
Del Potro opens against the winner of Argentine Leonardo Mayer and in-form Frenchman Richard Gasquet before a tough third-round match against one of Nick Kyrgios, a qualifier, Stan Wawrinka, or 13th seed Borna Coric.
Del Potro is seeded to meet No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.
Photos courtesy Rolex Shanghai Masters
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Novak Djokovic will put his 13-match winning streak on the line in his opener against the winner of German Maximilian Marterer and French veteran Jeremy Chardy. He could get his chance to avenge his shock Roland Garros quarter-final loss to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the third round. He is seeded to meet his vanquished Wimbledon final opponent Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic owns a tournament-record three titles in Shanghai, winning crowns in 2012-13 and in 2015, when he dropped just 25 games en route to the title, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
Djokovic is returning to tour-level play for the first time since winning his 14th major at the US Open. Earlier in the US summer the Serb became the first man to win a ninth different Masters 1000 singles title at Cincinnati to complete the Career Golden Masters.
Three-time Masters 1000 champion Alexander Zverev, who is next in line to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, will open against the winner of Canadian Denis Shapovalov and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who find themselves in respective semi-finals in Tokyo and Beijing Saturday. Fifth seed Marin Cilic may await in the quarter-finals.
Play begins Sunday.
SUNDAY PREVIEW: Sock leads opening day in Shanghai
Jack Sock, the 12th seed in Shanghai, will try to start to turn around his 2018 when he meets German Peter Gojowczyk on Sunday. The American reached the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals last year but is 6-16 in 2018. In other Sunday action, Germany's Maximilian Marterer meets Jeremy Chardy of France; Chile's Nicolas Jarry plays German Mischa Zverev; and American Steve Johnson faces Karen Khachanov of Russia.