ATP Tour: Shanghai Masters Selected Ro64 Matches Preview

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Damien Kayat takes a look at two of the biggest Round of 64 matches coming your way from the ATP Tour's Shanghai Masters.

Denis Shapovalov 11/20 | Nikolas Basilashvili 14/10
19-year-old Canadian Shapovalov has endured vacillating form this season in the wake of that breakthrough period on the American hardcourts last year. He reached the semi-finals at Delray before a credible Round of 16 run in Miami. Perhaps what was most surprising about the young gun’s season was his performance on clay. He reached the semi-finals in Madrid before a decent Round of 16 showing at Rome. He disappointed somewhat on grass this season, definitely considering his height and considerable service power. The trek back towards the North American hardcourts has yielded slightly more positive- if unremarkable- results. He reached the final 16 in Cincinnati before that titanic third-round loss to Anderson at Flushing Meadows. Since then, a quarter-final in St Petersburg and a semi-final in Japan seem to indicate that this precocious talent may be gearing up for a concerted push.

Aside from having perhaps the most awkward surname on the ATP circuit, 26-year-old Nikolas Basilashvili has largely gone unheralded thus far in his time on tour. But victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in the Beijing final has catapulted him into the reckoning this week. Truthfully though, this sort of breakthrough was always on the cards when more closely examining his season. He lost an epic five-setter to Edmund in Melbourne’s Third Round before securing decent quarterfinal finishes in Morocco and Hungary. He reached the quarterfinals in Antalya before a real breakthrough in Germany. He won the German Open having been unseeded before largely eschewing the American hardcourt season. He then managed to reach the final 16 at Flushing Meadows, pushing defending champion Nadal to four uncompromising sets in the process. He is in the form of his life and will take some beating this week.

You have to back Basilashvili at 14.10, he beat Shapovalov in their only previous encounter, which was earlier this year in Hungary. He also arrives at this premier event in far superior form. One may be concerned with the possible hangover effects that last week’s victory may have on the Georgian. When he won in Germany he went on to lose his opening match next time out in Austria. Hopefully, he will have learnt from his mistake this week. 

Richard Gasquet 4/10 | Leonardo Mayer 37/20
Winner of 15 titles on tour and three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, Richard Gasquet has managed to sketch out a very credible resume in the era of Federer, Nadal etc. He has certainly reserved his best tennis for the hard courts this season. He reached the final at the Open Sud de France before a semi-final run at the Grand Prix Hassan II. A quarter-final in Madrid was the highlight of an underwhelming clay-court campaign. He won on grass in the Rosmalen event before falling in the Swedish Open. He had a quiet American hardcourt season, unfortunately running into Novak Djokovic in the Third Round in Flushing Meadows. He reached the semi-finals in Japan last time out, highlighting his capacity to flourish in these three set events that surround the majors.

31-year-old Argentine journeyman Leonardo Mayer has reached five ATP Tour finals, though all of those have come on clay. Mayer’s season started to take off one the South American clay-courts, with quarter-finals showings at Sap Paulo and Argentina. He then had a fairly surprising run to the final 16 in the loaded Indian Wells Masters event. He then went on to have a fairly subdued period on his beloved clay courts. He did, however, manage to atone for that with a decent run to the final of the German Open. His hardcourt campaign has been fairly benign, though he did beat Lucas Pouille en route to a decent Round of 16 run in Cincinnati.

Amazingly enough, these two have only met twice in their long careers. They share the spoils at one apiece, with Mayer actually winning their last encounter in Flushing Meadows last week. Gasquet to win in straight sets at 21/20 looks a decent proposition. 

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Written by Damien Kayat for

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