This year’s Shanghai Rolex Masters draw is being led by two familiar faces with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain and No. 2 Roger Federer of Switzerland.
Standing tall and proud for the over-30 set, the 31-year-old Nadal and 36-year-old Federer could provide an enticing potential final scenario for Shanghai tennis fans. If these two megastars can both journey to the finals it would be their 38th meeting with Nadal holding a 23-14 winning edge.
But as everyone knows the final is a distant six rounds away and there are many talented players in the draw, besides Nadal and Federer, who are capable of hoisting the stunning Selangor trophy that depicts the roof of QiZhong Stadium.
Nadal, a Shanghai finalist in 2009, has a number of prospective difficult opponents in his half of the draw. He could be looking at a quarterfinal showdown with sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, which would see them square off for the second straight week.
In the semifinals, Nadal is seeded to play fourth seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, this year’s Wimbledon finalist; 11th seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa, the recent U.S. Open finalist; or 13th seeded Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
Federer’s half of the draw is set up for a quarterfinal outing with Belgian David Goffin, but players such as last year’s runner-up, ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and 14th seeded American Jack Sock could cause some problems as well as recent U.S. Open quarterfinalist Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
The semifinals offers a tough lineup if Federer, the 2015 Shanghai Rolex Masters champion, journeys that far. Possible competitors are third seed German sensation Alexander Zverev, Austria’s fifth seed Dominic Thiem and 16th seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
Thiem, who was an official guest at the draw ceremony held at the Rolex Experience located on Shanghai’s world famous Bund, will play either Viktor Troicki of Serbia or 18-year-old wildcard recipient Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the second round.
Shapovalov has been experiencing coming-of-age moments in tennis the last couple of months; he has made quite a noise by reaching the ATP Masters 1000 Montreal semifinals and the U.S. Open fourth round.
“It’s always tough draws in the Masters 1000 events,” Thiem said. “I didn’t expect an easy one and I know it’s going to be very difficult. I practiced with Denis a couple of times. He’s played an outstanding summer in Canada and at the U.S. Open. Definitely he’s a big champion of the future.”
Thiem had an actual role in the official draw by selecting a few of the player-named chips out of the jar for placement in the draw. Thiem was responsible for picking who Chinese wildcard recipient Zhang Ze, another draw guest, would play.
When the name Ryan Harrison of the U.S. came out of the box, Thiem looked to Zhang and gestured with his hand a thumbs up and thumbs down sign.
Later, Zhang offered this assessment of his first round opponent: “For me, this is okay. I think Harrison is a good player and I know him because we are the same year starting.”
On the eve of the 2017 Shanghai Rolex Masters, there is one guarantee ahead; with a world-class field on hand the tennis is bound to provide exciting competition.