Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the most successful rising talents on the men’s tour and Rolex Shanghai Masters fans saw exactly why that is true on Monday.
The 10th-seeded Tsitsipas came through with a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4 first-round win over Frenchman Gael Monfils. The intriguing match was highlighted by a 30-stroke rally which Tsitsipas won.
At 20-years-old, the Greek star started the 2018 season ranked No. 91 and is already located at No. 15 in the world, and is closing in on a spot in the top ten.
While Tsitsipas is still awaiting his first career title, his performance this season is impressing the entire tennis community. He’s reached two finals, losing out on the trophy to Rafael Nadal at Barcelona and in Canada. He’s also featured in two semifinals and four quarterfinals this year.
Tsitsipas will be challenged by talented Russian Karen Khachanov in the second-round. Interestingly, in his debut here last year as a qualifier, Tsitsipas defeated Khachanov in the first-round, which was the first ATP-tour level victory of his career.
“I have improved a lot,” Tsitsipas said after beating Monfils. “I have worked hours and hours on the court, lots of hours in the gym. I believe it’s just part of what I should be doing. I can’t wait for the future. I think I have more things to improve and more things to focus on to develop my game even more.”
American Sam Querrey pulled off an upset earlier in the day by ousting ninth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 6-4 in the first-round.
The 54th-ranked Querrey, who enjoyed a career-high ranking of No. 11 in February, broke Schwartzman’s serve on three of six break point opportunities. Many of the players have made note that the Shanghai courts are among the fastest on tour and that obviously played well into Querrey’s big-serving style.
Fellow American Mackenzie McDonald, a qualifier into the main draw, scored his biggest career victory by upsetting 14th-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. McDonald will face former Rolex Shanghai Masters finalist, Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the second-round.
“Definitely my biggest win to date and it’s really exciting,” McDonald said. “I thought I played great tennis and I could feel all the improvements I’ve had over the last few months and was happy I could put it together tonight.”
In one of the higher profiled first round matches, 13th seed Borna Coric came through against wildcard recipient Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Coric, playing in his first Shanghai main draw since 2015, posted his first career victory over Wawrinka. The Swiss had won their three previous encounters, although this was their first meeting since 2016.
In a late evening match, an all-China match up between two wild cards, garnered plenty of local attention as Wu Yibing, last year’s US Open junior champion, defeated Li Zhe 7-6(5), 6-2.
Prime-time on Tuesday night will deliver a treat for Rolex Shanghai Masters fans when reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Novak Djokovic shows up on center court.
Djokovic, now a 14-time major winner, will be hoping to win a fourth Shanghai title this week. He certainly will be approaching his first-round match against Jeremy Chardy with confidence as he owns an unblemished 11-0 record against the Frenchman. In fact, Djokovic has never even surrendered a set to Chardy; they’ve played 26.