It was a rainy Thursday afternoon in Shanghai; the roof was closed on the stadium court of stunning Qizhong Tennis Center that hosts the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Final preparations were occurring for the upcoming week of star-studded tennis that will feature tennis’ best-of-the-best.
All that, however, doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any action on the courts. Many of the top players have already arrived in Shanghai, often referred to as the Paris of the East, to practice and prepare for the competitive week ahead at this multi award-winning ATP Masters 1000 event celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
It was just after noon when seventh-ranked Dominic Thiem was spotted going through his paces on stadium court. The 25-year-old Austrian was busily doing drills to hone his distinct one-handed backhand into shape with his team.
Thiem was not the only top 10 star due on the stadium on Thursday. A glance at the practice schedule showed Thiem was followed on the court by Marin Cilic, this year’s Australian Open finalist.
Unlike Thiem, Cilic wasn’t focused on his backhand, at least not when he first started his training session. The Croat was seen continually lining up forehand returns in the deuce court and going onto construct points from there.
Defending champion Roger Federer had a two-hour booking following Cilic on the court, as did reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Novak Djokovic, who was set to hit with Borna Coric later in the day.
Wu Yibing, China’s up-and-coming talent, was also accorded the privilege of some practice time on the stadium during the day.
Naturally, with a 56-man draw, not every player already in town would have the option to score practice time on the stadium court. In fact, there were ten indoor courts in use on the day to facilitate all players receiving adequate time to get their games in gear for the week ahead.
Among the other players who booked practice time on the indoor courts on Thursday were a mix of main draw and qualifier players.
The American contingent seemed to dominant with at least eight practicing: Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Tim Smyczek, Tennys Sandgren, Denis Kudla, Taylor Fritz, Mackenzie McDonald, and Bradley Klahn all on the schedule.
Others on court on Thursday included Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, John Millman of Australia, Andreas Seppi of Italy, and Karen Khachanov of Russia.