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 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters.

Don’t look now, but the 2019 tennis season sure is winding down.


We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news but… Yeah we’re just about done here. As long as every tennis season feels every year, what with the seemingly endless string of tournaments of all kinds and all importance and the very telling absence of time off in between said tournaments, every year as we near the finish line we’re left with a dreaded sense that the end is nigh and that it will all be gone far too soon.

But yeah, we better count our lucky stars while we still can: while men’s tennis is in Shanghai this week, and women’s tennis heads off to China or Austria, after this week we only have a combined 15 events remaining before both seasons effectively end with the Nitto ATP Finals and the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen on, respectively, November 10 and October 27.

Oh sure, we’ll still have another three events on the WTA calendar, and two for the ATP—but the tennis season is effectively finished by mid-November.

Until then, let’s soak in all the tennis we can starting with the next in the long list of Masters 1000 events on the men’s side. As usual, we’ll run through our predictions for the Rolex Shanghai Masters main draw, all of whom are almost guaranteed to be wrong because we’re awful at this.

Main draw

The absence of Rafael Nadal looms large on this main draw: the Spaniard might trail by some 640 points at No. 2 on the rankings—but for the Race To London, it’s Nadal who’s comfortably ahead.

Mr. Defending Champion and current world No. 1 player Novak Djokovic resides atop the ATP World Tour and shouldn’t much difficulty navigating the first section of this draw. In the quarterfinals, we’re slotting him next to the anointed Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, of whom you haven’t heard much lately since his breakthrough over the summer.

The second section belongs to Russian superstar and overall great heel Daniil Medvedev, who’s riding a scorching second half where he’s made at least the final of all five events where he’s competed. We’re not sure if the 23-year-old is there at the top to stay, but we’ll damn sure enjoy the time we spend with him. We’ll give him a replay of his Rogers Cup semifinal in the quarterfinals this week against Karen Khachanov.

Dominic Thiem is coming off a successful week at the China Open and he’ll have in theory a fairly easy draw here in Shanghai: after a first-round bye, he should face in succession either two qualifiers or two players who would have beaten said qualifiers to get there. It gets tougher for the Austrian starting in the fourth round but it better since he would then be in the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 event.

Down in the final section of the main draw, there is Roger Federer and everyone else just living in his considerable shadow.

Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Felix Auger-Aliassime; Karen Khachanov over Daniil Medvedev; Dominic Thiem over Roberto Bautista Agut; Roger Federer over John Millman

Semifinals: Novak Djokovic over Karen Khachanov; Roger Federer over Dominic Thiem

Final: Roger Federer over Novak Djokovic

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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