The semi-finals have been completed in Tokyo and Beijing, the biggest surprise being Canadian Milos Raonic saving two match points to pull the upset against Andy Murray. Meanwhile, the main draw has been sorted in Shanghai, and we can only say that it will be an interesting tournament to follow, despite the absence of three top 10 players.
Roger Federer is back
In the heat of a race for the year-end number one ranking, Roger Federer makes a comeback to the courts, after taking a bit of rest following the Davis Cup play-offs.
The n° 1 player in the world has not played the tournament last year and is back in Shanghai, where he was runner-up in 2010. He will play the winner of a qualifier and wild card Zhang Ze in the second round, with a possible round-of-16 encounter with his countryman Stanislas Wawrinka.
Federer should not have many problems reaching the semi-finals, where he might meet defending champion Andy Murray.
The Scotsman has a tricky draw from the start, as he will face the winner of Florian Mayer/Bernard Tomic in the second round, and possible encounters with Gilles Simon in the round-of-16 and John Isner or Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals.
Easy draw for Novak Djokovic
In a very good position to win the China Open once again, World n° 2 Novak Djokovic should also not have many problems in Shanghai, where he will start against the winner of Pablo Andújar/Grigor Dimitrov, and could play against his countryman Janko Tipsarevic in quarter-finals.
In the semi-finals, Djokovic could meet n° 4 seed Tomas Berdych, but the road to the semis will be a tough one for the Czech, who could face Kei Nishikori, who ousted him in the Rakuten Open quarter-finals, in the round-of-16, before possible quarter-finals against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Milos Raonic.
My final prediction: Without originality, considering their respective draws, I think we will have a 1 vs 2 final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, making the race for the year-end n° 1 even tighter.
First round matches to follow
I don’t know how many of those matches will be on TV courts, but if they are, these first-rounders should really be fun to watch:
- Thomaz Bellucci vs Martin Klizan
- Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Jérémy Chardy
- Florian Mayer vs Bernard Tomic
- Radek Stepanek vs Lleyton Hewitt
- Fabio Fognini vs Marcos Baghdatis
- Viktor Troicki vs Mikhail Youzhny
-  Nicolás Almagro vs Tommy Haas
- Feliciano López vs Alejandro Falla (if López’s wrist is better, this should be a great left-handed veterans battle)
On top of the semi-finals in Beijing and Tokyo, the qualifications have started in Shanghai, with only one surprise in the first day’s results.
Rakuten Open (Tokyo) – Semi-finals
In Tokyo, Milos Raonic posted the second top 5 win of his career, playing a great match and saving two match points to stun defending champion Andy Murray, 6-3 6-7(5) 7-6(4). His other top 5 win also came against Murray, in Barcelona.
In his first final since Memphis, back in February, Raonic will face local Kei Nishikori. The eighth seed had no trouble defeating Marcos Baghdatis, 6-2 6-2, in the other semi-final.
The final will start at 14:00 local (1:00 ET).
China Open (Beijing) – Semi-finals
There have been absolutely no surprises in Beijing, as the two remaining seeds won and will square off in the finals.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Feliciano López by retirement (wrist injury), 6-1 4-1, and will face Novak Djokovic, who had the better of Florian Mayer, 6-1 6-4.
Djokovic should remain undefeated in Beijing, having played much better than his rival throughout the week and being extremely confident despite a wobble or two during the tournament.
The final will start at 16:00 local (4:00 ET) and will be preceded, at 13:00 local (1:00 ET) by the doubles final, where the n° 1 team of Bob and Mike Bryan will face the surprise of the doubles draw, Carlos Berlocq and Denis Istomin. Incidentally, Berlocq and Istomin will be rivals in the first round of Shanghai.
Shanghai Rolex Masters – Qualifications
There was only one surprise in the first round of qualifications, as Marius Copil upset qualifications second seed Matthew Ebden, 7-6(1) 6-4.
In the other matches:
-  Marinko Matosevic d. [Alt] Treat Conrad Huey, 7-5 7-5
-  Sergiy Stakhovsky d. Donald Young, 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4
-  Philipp Petzschner d. [Alt] Mariusz Fyrstenberg, 6-4 6-4
-  Brian Baker d. Zhang Zhizhen, 6-3 6-0
-  Grega Zemlja d. Gianluca Naso, 6-4 6-3
-  Guillermo García-López d. [Alt] Peter Luczak, 7-5 6-2
-  Alex Bogomolov Jr d. [WC] Li Yu Cheng, 6-0 6-0
-  Yen-Hsun Lu d. [Alt] Gao Xin, 6-1 6-1
-  Danai Udomchoke d. [Alt] Borut Puc, 7-6(2) 6-3
-  Tatsuma Ito d. [WC] Chang Yu, 6-2 6-4
-  Michael Berrer d. Riccardo Ghedin, 7-6(5) 6-3
-  Lukasz Kubot d. Gong Mao-Xin, 7-6(3) 6-2
-  Jimmy Wang d. Jan Hernych, 6-1 6-2
The final round of qualifications will start at 12:00 local (0:00 ET) on Sunday.