The Rolex Shanghai Masters returns in 2021 from 10-17 October, with defending champion Daniil Medvedev and four-time winner Novak Djokovic leading the field at the penultimate Masters 1000 of the season.
Shanghai Masters 2021 predictions
Cancelled in 2020 due to the global health crisis, the Rolex Shanghai Masters returns from 10-17 October 2021.
The penultimate Masters 1000 Series event of the tennis season, the Rolex Shanghai Masters is also the only one of the nine to be played outside Europe and the USA. Formerly the home of the ATP’s year-end championships, the Shanghai Masters now brings the ATP’s autumn Asian swing to a thrilling climax following 500-level tournaments in Beijing and Tokyo.
Shanghai is one of the few top-level prizes in men’s tennis to have eluded Rafael Nadal thus far, while Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have won multiple titles. Daniil Medvedev broke through in 2019 to become the first new champion since his compatriot Nikolay Davydenko in 2009, beating Alexander Zverev in the final, and will return to attempt to defend his title in 2021.
Can Medvedev defend in Shanghai?
Medvedev will return to the Rolex Shanghai Masters as, at least, a three-time Masters 1000 Series champion after his sensational end to the 2020 season, which saw him win his last ten matches of the year to win the Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals.
Medvedev’s run in London certainly proved, in case that there was any doubt, that he can beat Djokovic and Nadal in best-of-three matches (not to mention Dominic Thiem and Zverev) and he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Shanghai semifinals in 2019. The temperamental Russian will have a lot to defend when Shanghai 2021 comes around, however; but if he can cope with the pressure, he’ll be a very real threat to become the first player since Djokovic in 2012-13 to successfully defend his Shanghai title.
Djokovic to make it five Shanghai crowns?
With a perfect 4-0 record in Shanghai Masters finals, Djokovic has won the tournament more than anybody else, amassing a 34-5 record and not losing before the quarterfinals since the event took on its current format in 2009. His last three appearances in Shanghai have seen him suffer slightly surprising losses, to Roberto Bautista Agut in 2016 and Tsitsipas in the 2019 quarterfinals, and it’s true that there are more players who can beat Djokovic in best-of-three matches than there were for a while – but only really when Djokovic is having a distinctly average day.
The big concern for Djokovic in 2021 is how much he will have left in the tank after a long season which includes the Olympics, but if he is fit and energized, he tends to play superb tennis in Shanghai and you would expect him to be among the top favourites for the title.
Too late for Federer, Nadal and Murray?
The other members of the one-time Big Four have varying records in Shanghai, with Murray and Federer winning multiple titles while Nadal has reached the final twice but never won the title.
Could Nadal capture one of the few Masters 1000 Series titles to elude him thus far in 2021? It’s not impossible, given how much Nadal’s serving in particular on hard courts has improved in recent years, but he has skipped the Shanghai Masters the past two years and it would be no surprise whatsoever if he did so again in 2021. If he does play, he’ll likely be a bit more vulnerable than he might have been earlier in the season.
Federer’s scheduling in 2021 is difficult to predict given the multiple knee surgeries that he underwent in 2020, and defeats to Borna Coric and Zverev on his past two appearances in Shanghai suggest that he is particularly vulnerable to younger players at the tail end of the season. Murray, meanwhile, has yet to prove that he can get back to anything like the level which saw him win three Shanghai Masters titles in seven years.
Who else could shine in Shanghai?
Dominic Thiem proved in 2019-20 what a force he has become on hard courts, claiming his first Masters 1000 Series title at Indian Wells in 2019 and reaching the Australian and US Open finals in 2020, winning the latter. His record in Shanghai is an average 4-5, and like many others he could be feeling the wear and tear at this point in the season.
Zverev reached the Shanghai Masters final in 2019, and although he didn’t manage to add to his haul of three Masters 1000 Series titles in 2020, that was partly because there was scant opportunity – and he did reach the final of the Paris Masters. It’s Medvedev who is developing into a significant stumbling block for him at Masters 1000 Series level.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is still looking for his first Masters 1000 Series title, but he did beat Djokovic on his way to the semifinals in 2019, and is another player who should perform well in the conditions in Shanghai.
Shanghai Masters 2021 tournament information
Name: Shanghai Rolex Masters
Location: Shanghai, China
Venue: Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena
Category: ATP Masters 1000 Series
Surface: Outdoor hard courts
Draw size: 54 singles/24 doubles
Novak Djokovic (4)
Singles – Daniil Medvedev
Doubles – Mate Pavic/ Bruno Soares
Shanghai Masters Player Performance
|Player||Titles||Finals||2019 result||Win-loss record|
|Novak Djokovic||4 (2012-13, 2015, 2018)||–||QF (lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas)||34-5|
|Andy Murray||3 (2010-11, 2016)||1 (2012)||R32 (lost to Fabio Fognini)||23-4|
|Roger Federer||2 (2014, 2017)||1 (2010)||QF (lost to Alexander Zverev)||23-6|
|Daniil Medvedev||1 (2019)||–||Champion (d. Alexander Zverev)||6-2|
|Rafael Nadal||–||2 (2009, 2017)||Did not play||16-8|
|Alexander Zverev||–||1 (2019)||Runner-up (lost to Daniil Medvedev)||10-4|
|Borna Coric||–||1 (2018)||R64 (lost to Andrey Rublev)||6-4|
|Roberto Bautista Agut||–||1 (2016)||R16 (lost to Matteo Berrettini)||11-7|