The Rolex Shanghai Masters 2019 draw took place earlier today and Federer is already in the city carrying out a raft of promotional work alongside his practice sessions.
The Swiss heads into the event as a two-time champion, playing some of his best tennis here in 2014 against Djokovic and crushing Nadal three years later in the epic 2017 season.
Can he replicate that form this year and take home his share of biggest prize money pool on the Masters 1000 circuit ($1,374,995) after navigating what looks to be a tricky draw? You can see his projected opponents below.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 1: Bye
- Round 2: Marin Cilic / Albert Ramos Vinolas
- Round 3: David Goffin
- Quarter Final: Alexander Zverev / Borna Coric
- Semi Final: Dominic Thiem
- Final: Novak Djokovic
Thoughts on the Draw
First up for Roger after the customary bye looks like it could be Marin Cilic which is a tricky opening match.
However, the Croat will have to get through Ramos Vinolas in the first round which isn't easy as Roger can attest to in his loss to the Spaniard here four years ago.
Cilic has been going through a barren spell this season and although he took a set off Nadal at the US Open his level seems to have dropped compared to a couple of years ago.
Most recently he lost to Hyeon Chung in the 2nd round of Tokyo, 6-1 in the third, and even though Roger is coming in somewhat cold I'd expect him to come through given the 9-1 H2H record and Cilic's patchy form.
Round three also sees another tricky opponent with 13th seed David Goffin as the likeliest to come through. Goffin has had a solid few months on tour and made the semi-finals in Tokyo before coming unstuck against Djokovic earlier today.
It's hard to see the Belgian making an impression if Roger is up in his higher gears but he's obviously good enough to take advantage of an off day should it not happen for the Swiss.
Should Roger progress he could then meet his new pupil, Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. Sascha plays in the Beijing semi-finals today and after winning the Laver Cup with coaches Federer and Nadal in tow he looks to have found some form to finish the season strong.
The German is always a tricky customer as he seems to enjoy trying to beat Federer but like the Swiss, he has an awkward section with last years finalist Coric in the mix. Roger's Cincinnati conqueror Andrey Rublev is also there so he'll need to negate that to make the last eight.
For the semi-finals, fellow Laver Cup teammate Dominic Thiem is the highest seed. Thiem is currently in the last four over in Beijing and like Zverev, has so far had a decent week of tennis. Shanghai is arguably his worst Masters 1000 though, with a 2-4 losing record and he's never been past the 2nd round.
Bautista Agut is also in this section and he's the opposite of Thiem, with Shanghai statistically been his best event. The Spaniard has a 67% win rate at the Qhizong Forest Arena and he was able to make the final in 2017. Struff, Albot and Berrettini are also in this quarter and I wouldn't be surprised to see a left of field semi-finalist from this section.
As for the final, with no Nadal, Federer is the second seed so Djokovic was always going to be in the other half. Novak's shoulder injury has been the talk of the town post US Open with tons of rumours but he's made mincemeat of the field in Tokyo so far and looks to be playing without any issues. Tsitsipas, the man of the moment Medvedev, Monfils and Khacahnov are all in this half so it's not plain sailing for the World Number One.
Expectations for Federer
Win, 2R, Absent, Win, Semifinal is Federer's record over the last five Shanghai tournaments so it's been a happy hunting ground for him of late.
I like his chances of making it to the business end of things yet again but with a guy like Cilic potentially first up it's not worth looking too far ahead. The key is to come out from the blocks strong get through that first match.
What do you guys make of the draw? Predictions for Federer? Any other potential matches that have caught your eye? Let me know in the comment.