By Ian Horne, editor of Shanghai-Masters-Live.com and Live-Tennis
After the US Open, the next major event of the 2012 season will be the Shanghai Rolex Masters. This competition has made its mark as a standout event and the second to last Masters 1000 series tournament on the ATP calendar. Sure, it might not boast the kind of history that many of the European and North American events can lay claim to, but entering its fourth year the Shanghai Rolex Masters can be described as a very significant competition. It’s even been voted Masters 1000 series Tournament of the Year for three years running.
The Qi Zhong Tennis Centre provides a superb location for this tournament, though it’s not the venue that’s going to make this year’s edition of the event so special. The real big draw here is the participation of the best players that the ATP has to offer, providing the prospect of watching Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray battle it out for the title. Here’s a quick summary of the main contenders in this season’s competition.
Shanghai-Masters-Live.com‘s feature writer Ian Horne takes a look at the title contenders in the 2012 Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Roger Federer could hardly have asked for more this season. Some had questioned his ability to win slams at this stage of his career, yet we were fortunate enough to witness him win another major at Wimbledon this year. And a return to the top of the rankings is perhaps his biggest achievement this season. He seems fiercely determined to stay at No. 1 for as long as possible. He’ll be the pick of many a pundit to win the Shanghai Rolex Masters this year.
Novak Djokovic hasn’t been able to maintain his dominance over the rest of the ATP this season but he’s still playing breathtaking tennis. Now sitting at No. 2 in the world rankings, the Serb will be eyeing up the Asian swing as his big opportunity to regain lost ground on Federer. Like Federer, Djokovic was sidelined for last year’s draw due to injury. This event promises to be hugely influential in the race to finish the season as the world No. 1.
Rafael Nadal is currently the world No. 3, but he could well have been ahead of both Djokovic and Federer had injuries not plagued him so often of late. The Spaniard is resting up at the moment due to the Hoffa’s Syndrome injury in his left knee. He has pulled out of Spain’s Davis Cup semi-final clash against the United States, but we hope for a comeback in Shanghai. The two events are just under a month apart. It would be fantastic to see him take part here. Forget his third round exit last season; a fully fit Rafa could really shake things up in the main draw.
Let’s not forget two-time champion Andy Murray. Last year’s Asian swing was a very successful one for the Scot. He’ll return this time in search of a hat-trick, and his prospects seem to be pretty good. Journalists have referred to the ‘big three’ or the ‘big four’ in men’s tennis interchangeably over the past few years, outlining Murray’s flirtation with being one of the greats of the modern era. An appearance in the Wimbledon final, a Gold medal in the singles at the Olympics, and the title at the U.S. Open suggest that Murray isn’t destined to be a perennial nearly-man.
The Rest of the Pack
There are a few other players just on the periphery who could come to the fore in Shanghai. Take Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for example. When he’s not busy walking into fire hydrants, he just so happens to be an incredible athlete with a growing fanbase. The popular Frenchman possesses a forehand that is the envy of many.
David Ferrer, the man known affectionately as ‘the wall’, could also feature in the latter stages after his stellar semifinal appearance at the U.S. Open. He was the runner-up last season after losing against Murray in a close-fought two-set final.
A final suggestion for a title contender in Shanghai is the ATP’s worst kept secret, Milos Raonic. The young Canadian isn’t a household name just yet but he’s climbing the rankings at a steady pace. With his huge serve, there’s something a little Sampras-esque about Raonic. He’s got a lot of work to do before any serious comparisons can be drawn between him and Pistol Pete just yet though.