Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2016 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Maybe you’ve watched the news this past week?

Well we have—though it really was more Twitter than the actual news, but you get the gist. We were on Twitter the other day and, lo and behold, we saw some actual breaking news.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport—I didn’t know that was a thing and neither did you, stop lying—issued its decision in the Maria Sharapova doping saga, ultimately reducing the two-year suspension that the International Tennis Federation had imposed to a ban of 15 months.

The five-month reduction ultimately means that the Russian player will be able to compete again on the WTA Tour in late April 2017. The CAS is apparently the highest authority in sports and, as such, its word on the matter is final. So we’re glad we’ve got that settled: Sharapova, if she so chooses, will be back at that time. What does this mean for her? What will happen in late April?

Those are all valid questions, ones we would normally be all too happy to tackle in this column. But part of the challenge of writing a weakly column such as this one is actually finding 52 topics to write about on any given year. And when there’s a big tournament on the calendar that week, you write a preview about said tournament—and you table whatever else.

So stay for the following Shanghai Rolex Masters preview, and come back next week for discussion of the Sharapova latest.


Main draw

If last week’s China Open had a fairly open draw (on the men’s side at least), then this week it’s the very opposite. Welcome to life at a Masters 1000 event.

Novak Djokovic is back in action for the first time since losing in the US Open final against Stanislas Wawrinka a month ago. It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for the World No. 1, as rumours of personal trouble and injuries have taken their toll. To top it off, the Serb has seen his lead at the top of the ATP World Tour rankings to a mere 1,500 points because Andy Murray has been on the hottest streak of  all hot streaks, but let’s not lose sight of the 56-6 record, the 7 titles and one more thing: Djokovic did complete the career Grand Slam in 2016. No matter what happens the rest of the way, it’s already been a success.

Djokovic will want to do well in Shanghai just to reaffirm his stronghold on the sport. Facing him in the quarterfinals will be Australian Nick Kyrgios and, if it really comes to that, buckle up because it’ll be an awesome match.

The second section of the draw, meanwhile, is fairly wide-open, with a struggling Rafael Nadal as the supposed favorite. Let’s give the edge to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Bernard Tomic because why not? Canadian Milos Raonic had to pull out of his semifinal match at the China Open last week but is still slated to compete in Shanghai; so long as he’s healthy, he’ll be fine and a potential battle against a fuego Stanislas Wawrinka would be wonderful.

Meanwhile, maybe you’ve heard about this Andy Murray fella? He’s been playing pretty damn good tennis since the Rio Olympics and here we’ll give him a spot in the quarterfinals, where he’ll lose against Gael Monfils because we like the Frenchman.

Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Nick Kyrgios; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over Bernard Tomic; Milos Raonic over Stanislas Wawrinka; Gael Monfils over Andy Murray

Semifinals: Novak Djokovic over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; Milos Raonic over Gael Monfils

Final: Milos Raonic over Novak Djokovic

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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