It promises to be an entertaining second day at the ATP Shanghai Masters, with 16 intriguing first-round matches on the slate in China. As always, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for every match on the schedule, including Aleksandar Vukic vs Roberto Carballes Baena and Botic van de Zandschulp vs Christopher O’Connell. But who will book their place in the second round?
ATP Shanghai Masters Day 2 Predictions
Juan Pablo Varillas vs Sebastian Ofner
Head-to-head: Varillas 1-0 Ofner
Juan Pablo Varillas’ reputation as a clay-court specialist is perhaps overstated, the Peruvian has earned some good results away from the terre battue including a recent four-set victory over Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round at the US Open. But in Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, he comes up against a man in form and with a game better-suited to the conditions at the ATP Shanghai Masters. A Varillas win certainly isn’t unthinkable – he did win their only previous match – but recent Astana semifinalist Ofner looks the likelier winner.
Prediction: Ofner in 2
Alexei Popyrin vs Matteo Arnaldi
Head-to-head: Popyrin 1-0 Arnaldi
The conditions in Shanghai might be very different to those in Umag where they last met, but that will probably give Popyrin even more confidence heading into this match. In their only previous meeting in Croatia earlier this year, he narrowly beat Matteo Arnaldi in the semifinals en route to the title. Arnaldi has impressed since that reverse, reaching the fourth round at the US Open and the second round as a qualifier last time in Beijing. If Popyrin can get on a roll, his powerful groundstrokes might prove too much for Arnaldi to handle, but the Italian seems (just about) the likelier winner.
Prediction: Arnaldi in 3
Philip Sekulic vs Lorenzo Sonego
Head-to-head: first meeting
It’s been a disappointing season for Lorenzo Sonego but the Italian has a solid record indoors and will be hoping for a late rally. Philip Sekulic was excellent in the qualifying, and if his wins over Kaichi Uchida and Arthur Webber to reach the main draware anything to go by, he has a bright future ahead of him. But if Sonego, even if he is in indifferent form, can find anything like his best tennis, he should have too much for the inexperienced Australian.
Prediction: Sonego in 2
Mikhail Kukushkin vs Alexandre Muller
Head-to-head: first meeting
Alexandre Muller was on the end of a humbling reverse at the US Open, taking just five games off eventual champion Novak Djokovic, but there is no great shame in that, and he has rebounded well. The 35-year-old Mikhail Kukushkin has given Djokovic and others at the top of the game a few scares, but the qualifier is not the force he once was. That said, he did look sharp coming through the qualifying, with the surface in Shanghai perhaps suiting his flat, attacking groundstrokes. Expect the Kazakh to deliver a reminder of why he was once ranked as high as world #39.
Prediction: Kukushkin in 3
Main photo credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports