The 11th installment of the prized Rolex Shanghai Masters got underway on Sunday with four main draw matches being hosted on the futuristic looking stadium court.
The honour of opening this year’s tournament was bestowed upon 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, the only seed in action on Sunday. Basilashvili lived up to his seeded billing by defeating Radu Albot of Moldovia, although it took three sets to secure the 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 first-round victory.
Joao Sousa of Portugal outlasted Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the second match of the day.
Taylor Fritz looked to have his match handled in two sets, but had to wait out three sets before posting a 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 6-4 win over Fernando Verdasco of Spain.
Hubert Hurkacz of Poland scored the final main draw win of the day by defeating Chinese wildcard recipient Zhang Zhizhen 7-6 (5), 6-4.
The day also saw two important pre-tournament media conferences with 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and world No.4 Russian Daniil Medvedev, by far the hottest player on tour in terms of his recent results.
Federer’s been coming to this bustling city for many years and has won the Rolex Shanghai Open trophy on two occasions in 2014 and 2017. From the city’s offerings to the fans, Shanghai is clearly a favorite tour stop for the Swiss master.
“I feel like the city has, you know, gotten better over the years,” Federer said. “I remember it just felt different, the vibe, back in 2002 when I came or maybe even in ’05, ’06. I feel the last ten years it’s really gotten even more modern. There is more stuff.
“The size, when it comes to anything, is just off the charts. Yeah, the fans get together, really make a conscious effort of wanting to show me how excited and happy they are. I felt that (rge day before) at Fan Day. Means a lot to me. Don’t get that kind of fan grouping like this together anywhere else in the world.
“And I opened the stadium, so forever I will be connected to this tournament, for sure.”
There’s no doubt that the other players are aware the third-seeded Medvedev is a player to fear these days. Why so, you might ask? Simply because the last five tournaments he’s played – Washington DC, Montreal, Cincinnati, the U.S. Open and St. Petersburg – he’s journeyed to the final, winning in Cincinnati and St. Petersburg.
Having played such a full summer schedule, Medvedev took the last couple of weeks off and is now refreshed and ready for action.
“I needed to get my body back in shape,” he said, of his recent mini-vacation. “I came here quite early in Shanghai to get used to the conditions, to the jet lag and everything. Hopefully I can be 100 percent on my first match.”
WHAT’S ON TAP FOR MONDAY
Andy Murray fans in Shanghai will get to see the three-time major winner back in action after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery earlier in the year. The three-time Rolex Shanghai Masters champion’s comeback has been progressing well on a carefully crafted schedule and just last week in Beijing he reached the quarterfinals only a week after winning his first tour-level match in more than a year.
Murray will take on Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero in one of the featured evening matches.
Also of interest on Monday will be the first match on stadium court between Canadian Denis Shapovalov and American Frances Tiafoe. And the match that will close out Monday’s stadium program will be Chinese wildcard recipient Zhang Ze up against Spanish qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta, winner in Chengdu a week ago.