For the first time since 2019, the ATP tour returns to Shanghai for the 2023 Shanghai Masters and will feature the likes of World #2 Carlos Alcaraz playing the event for the first time as well as former champion Andy Murray returning.
ATP Shanghai Day 1 Predictions
Daniel Altmaier vs Yoshihito Nishioka
Despite losing very easily just a few days ago against Jannik Sinner, who might very well go onto win the title, in Beijing, the Japanese man turned around an awful summer with a great final showing in Zhuhai just the week before beating the likes of Struff and Karatsev, both dangerous big hitters in straight sets before losing to Khachanov. On the other hand, Altmaier hasn’t beaten a top 50 player in over two months, very different fates. Against someone like Nishioka, you can’t be in poor form or his grinding gamestyle will make you beat yourself, something I expect here.
Prediction: Nishioka in 2
Jaume Munar vs Te Rigele
Sometimes it feels like Munar is just there, never making big strides or doing anything noteworthy yet still good enough to get into most events and win a match or two. It about sums up the Spaniard’s game really, not flashy, not powerful, but good enough to fairly often beat those around him by being consistent. In the first round here he’ll take on the world number 494 Chinese wildcard, Te, who doesn’t often play on the Challenger Tour let alone the main ATP Tour. As great as it will be to see a Chinese man do well in Shanghai, this is asking for a lot just to think he could keep this competitive, especially considering he’s had a few very one sided losses against players ranked outside the top 300 in recent months.
Prediction: Munar in 2
James Duckworth vs Yannick Hanfmann
Head-to-head: Hanfmann 1-0
When the pair met in Singapore two years ago, the German routinely pushed the Australian aside. Two years on, the German is around the same level he was back then, stuck around the world’s Top 50 but never threatening to break any higher. Duckworth, now 31 years of age though has been on the decline, as so many do in their late 20s and early 30s. The Australian relied so much on his movement that it’s clear to see why he’s now dropped outside the world’s Rop 130 and despite coming through qualifying comfortably, he beat players he beat two players ranked outside the top 250 so there’s not much to go off there. Despite Hanfmann ending his U.S. hardcourt season without a single win, beating Lajovic and Kecmanovic–despite both in qualifying–in Beijing comfortably puts him as the favorite here with a game that Duckworth should have trouble coming to grips with.
Prediction: Hanfmann in 2
Andy Murray vs Roman Safiullin
Head-to-head: Murray 1-0
Without a doubt one of the main highlights of the first round in Shanghai with former champion and former World #1 Andy Murray taking to stage against the in-form Roman Safiullin coming off a great final showing in Chengdu where the Russian found himself just a few points away from the title. With the Brit these days, despite clawing his way back into the world’s top 40, it’s still a matter of inconsistency. Some days the 36-year-old shows glimpses of why he was for so long one of the best players in the world yet other days it’s like simply watching a shadow. Which version of Murray we’ll get in Shanghai is yet to be seen but one thing for sure is if Safuillin plays like he did in Chengdu and Wimbledon, where he made the quarterfinals, Murray will be scrambling around the court. Whilst no doubt the two-time Wimbledon champion has the ability to run every ball down, switch up the plays and terrorie Safiullin into submission, just due to recent form alone the Russian has to be favorite.
Prediction: Safiullin in 3
Main Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports