Saturday morning saw the Draw Ceremony unfold for the 2016 Shanghai Rolex Masters. Taking place at the Rolex Experience, a museum and showroom on Shanghai’s historic Bund dedicated to the “Rolex Universe”, the ceremony was attended by some of China’s sports glitterati including Mrs. Yang Yang, China’s first ever Winter Olympics Gold Medalist, Mr. Liu Xiang, Olympic Gold Medalist, and Ms. Wu Minxia, China’s most decorated Olympian ever. Representing the players was tournament #9 seed and 2015 finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Tsonga surprised everyone by drawing his own first-round opponent, Germany’s Florian Mayer, and a light exchange between Liu Xiang and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga drew laughter from assembled media and guests, with the hurdler admitting that Tsonga wasn’t actually his favorite player (with the honor going to retired WTA star Li Na instead).
What we learned from the draw:
Top seed Novak Djokovic is joined by fourth seed Rafael Nadal in the top half of the draw, with second seed Andy Murray projected to face off against third seed Stan Wawrinka in the other semifinal.
The top two seeds look to have the toughest roads to the final. Djokovic may have to go through Fabio Fognini, Grigor Dimitrov (who beat Nadal in straight sets this week at the China Open) and Nick Kyrgios (also through to this week’s Japan Open semis) or recent Shenzhen Open winner Tomas Berdych just to get to the semis.
Murray faces a slew of the hottest players on tour in Lucas Pouille (winner in Metz last month), Rio Silver Medalist Juan Martin Del Potro or US Open semifinalist Gael Monfils and potentially US Open champion Wawrinka in the semifinals.
Chinese wildcards fared well. China’s #1 Ze Zhang opens against a qualifier, while Di Wu gets #16 Pablo Cuevas and Zhe Li plays against Kevin Anderson.
First-round matches to look for:
In a superb first round Grigor Dmitrov plays Richard Gasquet in a battle of beautiful backhands while a big serving spectacle will see Nick Kyrgios taking on Sam Querry. NextGen star Alexander Zverev squares off against John Isner with Olympic silver medallist Juan Martin del Potro playing tenacious Belgian David Goffin.
(1) Novak Djokovic vs (7) Tomas Berdych
(2) Andy Murray vs (6) Gael Monfils
(3) Stan Wawrinka vs (5) Milos Raonic
(4) Rafael Nadal vs (8) Marin Cilic
The 56-player draw is comprised of 45 direct entrants, four wildcards and seven qualifiers with the top eight seeds receiving first-round byes.
Qualifying rounds are taking place this weekend, with play starting at 12 noon daily wth main draw matches starting Sunday 9 October.