by Sandra Harwitt
If there is one way to describe the decade-long history of the Rolex Shanghai Masters it would be consistency. The success of the top players in going home with the trophy tucked into luggage has proven to be overwhelming to the other competition.
Only one player not named Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer has nabbed the coveted title. That would be Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who won the first Rolex Shanghai Masters in 2009.
Since then it’s been Nole with four titles (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018), Andy with three titles (2010, 2011 and 2016) and Rog with two titles (2014 and 2017).
All three will be in town this coming week trying to nab another one of the Selangor Pewter trophies that symbolizes the roof at QiZhong Stadium.
In fact, Federer is already on the grounds practicing, having arrived on Wednesday night. On Friday morning, a day proving to be warm and humid, Federer was going through the paces on stadium court under the watchful eye of his coach, Ivan Ljubicic.
Not surprisingly, the three most decorated Shanghai champions have had great success in the ATP Masters 1000 arena. Djokovic has won 33 Masters titles and Federer 28, which places them at No. 2 and No. 3 on the all-time list of ATP Masters 1000 champions. Murray sits fifth on that list with 14 titles, right behind Andre Agassi, who won 17 Masters trophies during his illustrious career.
Rafael Nadal, a frequent competitor in Shanghai sits atop of the Masters 1000 winners list with 35 titles, having won at Rome and Canada this season. Unfortunately, Rafa, who once played here at Shanghai despite having appendicitis, has had to withdraw with a left wrist injury that hasn’t healed to the point where it’s advisable for him to compete this week.
When Nadal returns to Shanghai next year he will do so as a married man. He is soon set to wed longtime girlfriend Maria Francisca. Interestingly, Nadal’s yet to taste victory at the Rolex Shanghai Masters so there’s no doubt he’ll be hoping that 2020 will be his year. In the past decade he reached the final in 2009 and 2017.
While there’s no denying that Federer and Djokovic will be prime candidates to pick-up another Shanghai victory this year, for Murray it’s just a thrill that he’ll be here competing.
The 32-year-old Briton, plagued by a hip injury unwilling to heal, virtually announced his retirement at the Australian Open last January. The pain was too much to bear and his results were no longer meeting the expectations of a Grand Slam champion.
A rethink of his situation once back home in England and Murray decided he would undergo a hip resurfacing. The same operation put Bob Bryan back on the court and Murray hoped – and succeeded – in having a similar result. He resumed playing again this summer, starting out with doubles and is now playing singles. Just two weeks ago he won his first singles match since his return – a first-round at Zhuhai, China.
Be assured that while Djokovic, Federer and Murray will be hoping to win here again, there’s quite a number of other talented players who will aim to break the juggernaut the trio have had on the Shanghai crown.
Keep both eyes on fourth-ranked Daniil Medvedev, showing his muscle these past few months on tour, most especially by reaching his first major final at the US Open. Others to definitely watch are fifth-ranked Dominic Thiem, sixth-ranked Alexander Zverev and seventh-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, but don’t discount any player in the draw because as we say here at the Rolex Shanghai Masters it’s … Simply The Best!
On Sunday, October 13th, we will know who the new champion will be.