The Shanghai Rolex Masters is the favourite ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the players – they have voted it as such every year since it debuted in 2009 – and there is every reason to think that punters may like it after this season’s event.
Of the 16 Shanghai Rolex Masters seeds, two stand out as betting vehicles and, thankfully, they are in opposite halves of the draw so they cannot meet until the final. Their names are Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.
With Andy Murray absent from the Shanghai Rolex Masters due to injury – the Briton underwent surgery last month in an effort to cure his long-standing back problem – Djokovic has the best competition form. Djokovic beat two-time Shanghai Rolex Masters champion Murray 5-7 7-6 6-3 in last year’s title decider after defeating Grigor Dimitrov, Feliciano Lopez, Tommy Haas and Tomas Berdych, all in straight sets.
Djokovic, who won the China Open last week, appears to have a carpet ride to the Shanghai Rolex Masters final. Djokovic is in the same quarter as the rapidly fading Federer, whom he has not faced this year but whom he beat 7-6 7-5 when they met in the 2012 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. And Djokovic will not care who emerges from the second quarter that the out-of-form David Ferrer and the back-from-injury Jo-Wilfried Tsonga headline. The top half of the draw looks like Djokovic’s to bully provided that he plays okay tennis.
Rafael Nadal is the only other Shanghai Rolex Masters player who is trading at single-figure odds with bookmakers. Nadal is the new world number one but Shanghai has never been one of the Spaniard’s favourite destinations. Since making the 2009 final, which he lost 6-7 3-6 to Nikolay Davydenko, Nadal has won only two matches in the tournament and gone down to Florian Mayer and Jurgen Melzer. Furthermore, Nadal is in the fourth quarter alongside a few dangerous sleepers – John Isner, Milos Raonic and Stanislas Wawrinka. Nadal is a lay even at odds of 2.62 with BetVictor.
If anyone is worth backing to upset Djokovic then Del Potro, who only got into last week’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships as a late, wild-card replacement for Murray, is the player at odds of 15.00 with Bet365. All three bookmakers offer the same each-way terms, which are half the odds the first two places.
Del Potro should not be tired backing up from the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships because it was his first event since the US Open in which he lost to Australian battler Lleyton Hewitt in five sets in the second round. Del Potro was very good on the big points in Tokyo, which earned him victories in a number of close matches and will have done wonders for his confidence. Berdych is the other highly ranked seed in Del Potro’s quarter but he is under a fitness cloud and the other stars standing between the Argentinian and the Shanghai Rolex Masters semi-finals are Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Haas, neither of whom boats a terrific record at this stage of the year. Factor in doubts about Nadal’s suitability to the competition and Del Potro is an acceptable betting vehicle at those double-figure odds.
It is imperative that Del Potro has a good Shanghai Rolex Masters to consolidate his spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and, although he did not win a match in 2009 on his one and only tournament appearance, that had everything to do with a right wrist injury that he sustained during his 5-7 1-2 retirement loss to Melzer. Del Potro loves a hard court – he won the 2009 US Open – and he shapes as the only alternative to backing Djokovic in the Chinese port city.