Preview: Federer, Djokovic head to Shanghai; women to Linz, Tianjin

Preview: Federer, Djokovic head to Shanghai; women to Linz, Tianjin

Plus: the year-end races, for No. 1 and the tour championships, start to heat up.

Last week the WTA staged its $8 million showcase event of the Asian swing, at the China Open. This week it’s the ATP’s turn to do the same at the $8.3 million Shanghai Rolex Masters. Here’s a look at that draw, which is already underway, and at where the women go after Beijing. The race is on for the year-end No. 1 rankings, and the final spots in each tour’s year-end championships.


Shanghai Rolex Masters (ATP)

Shanghai

$8,322,885; 1000 ranking points

Hard court

Draw is here

Since 2010, Shanghai has had only three champions: Novak Djokovic, who has won four titles there; Andy Murray, who has won three; and Roger Federer, who has won two. All three men are present and accounted for this year. Djokovic and Federer are the top two seeds, while Murray, who is coming back from hip surgery, has been given a wild card and will start against Juan Ignacio Londero.

If there were any doubts about Djokovic after the US Open, he dispelled them, and then some, with his victory in Tokyo. It was clean and clinical enough to make him the favorite to defend his title in Shanghai as well, despite the fact that the competition will be tougher and the court quicker. Djokovic will start against either Frances Tiafoe or Denis Shapovalov, and could face John Isner and Stefanos Tsitsipas before the semifinals. As for Federer, he’ll begin against either Marin Cilic or Albert Ramos-Viñolas, while Alexander Zverev is his prospective quarterfinal opponent.


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Returning: Daniil Medvedev finally took a week off after his title run in St. Petersburg. Will the rest help, or will it break up the rhythm he’s been honing for the last three months? The Russian will start against either Cam Norrie or Gilles Simon, and is in Djokovic’s half.

Player to Watch: Dominic Thiem. He’s been a clay specialist for most of this career, but he pulled off an impressive win on hard courts this past week in Beijing. Will he be tired after three-setters against Karen Khachanov and Tsitsipas over the weekend? Or will his confidence in his attacking game be boosted? Thiem will start against either Ze Zhang or Pablo Carreño Busta.

Could Use a Win, or Two: Robert Bautista Agut. He’s seventh in the race to London, and is coming off a first-round loss in Beijing.


Upper Austria Ladies Linz (WTA)

Linz, Austria

$250,000; International

Indoor hard court

Draw is here

The name—Upper Austria Ladies Linz—doesn’t roll of the tongue, but this International-level fixture has been given an injection of intrigue over the last few days. Kiki Bertens, who is trying to qualify for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, has taken a wild card after losing in the semifinals in Beijing. Bertens is the top seed, but that doesn’t mean her road will be a smooth one; she’ll start against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and she’s in the same quarter as Maria Sakkari. In the final, she could meet No. 2 seed Belinda Bencic, one of the women she’s trying to leapfrog into Shenzhen.

Also here: Anastasija Sevastova, Donna Vekic, Julia Goerges, Jelena Ostapenko

In the qualifying draw: Cori "Coco" Gauff


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Tianjin Open (WTA)

Tianjin, China

$500,000; International

Hard court

Draw is here

Sofia Kenin is the top seed, Qiang Wang No. 2, and Dayana Yastremska No. 3. But the highest-profile entrant is unseeded Venus Williams, who will start against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.