Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic return to the court as the Asian swing of the tennis season continues, with the 2018 Shanghai Masters taking centre stage for the next week or so.
Federer and Djokovic have both taken time out over the course of the last few weeks in a bid to recharge their batteries and ensure they are fully fit for the end of the 2018 season.
Best Shanghai Masters Bookmakers
With Rafael Nadal not involved in the tournament due to his own injury issues, Federer and Djokovic have been made the top two seeds for the Shanghai Masters, which is played at the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena. Three-time winner Andy Murray is also absent this week.
Aside from the big two, top names in the frame include Juan Martin del Potro, who was in fine form at the China Open last week, while Marin Cilic performed well here a year ago.
Federer is the defending champion, having triumphed against his old rival Nadal in the final in 2017, while Djokovic has also won the tournament on three occasions. Both of the top seeds therefore know what it takes to win at the Shanghai Masters and a final between Federer and Djokovic is certainly not out of the question.
As they are for most of the tournaments they enter, Federer and Djokovic can be found right at the top of the betting odds for the Shanghai Masters. Federer can be backed at around the 5/1 mark, while tennis fans can also take on the 9/5 on offer for Djokovic to triumph this week.
But where is the best value to be found in the Shanghai Masters betting? Let’s take a look. First we’ll compare the outright Shanghai Open betting odds and then dive into predictions, tips and picks for this week’s top tennis event.
Shanghai Masters Betting Odds
This table compares the odds offered by three betting sites for each player to win the Shanghai Open outright. The best tennis bookmakers offer a range of matchup bets, propositions and in-play markets as well, but here we’ll be focusing on the simple question of who will lift the trophy. Continue below for the rest of our event preview.
|Juan Martin del Potro||31/4||8/1|
|Pablo Carreno Busta||90/1||50/1|
|Alex De Minaur||80/1||50/1|
Race to London Heating Up
This is a big week for Novak Djokovic as he has the chance to narrow the gap on Rafael Nadal in the Race to London, with around a thousand points between them at the time of writing.
Nadal’s absence from the 2018 Shanghai Masters gives Djokovic a free hit of sorts as players look to secure their places at the ATP Finals, which are held in London to round off the year.
Djokovic is not defending any points this week so any progress he makes at the Shanghai Masters will bring him closer to Nadal, while Federer – who is fourth in the Race to London – has to win the tournament just to pick up the same 1,000 points he won here a year ago.
The Race to London rankings promises to be a fascinating sub-plot in the next few weeks and Djokovic will be determined to make the most of this opportunity to make ground on Nadal.
Djokovic has a bye into the second round where he will face Jeremy Chardy, who knocked out Germany’s Maximilian Marterer in his opening encounter at the Shanghai Masters.
Difficult Draw for Federer
Despite being the top seed for the Shanghai Masters, Roger Federer will have to be at his best from the off if he is to make it through to the final of the tournament for the second year in a row because he does not have an easy draw.
Federer is expected to come up against Daniil Medvedev in the second round, with the Russian having shown a strong seam of form in Tokyo in the past few days. The Swiss superstar could then face Milos Raonic, another player who has been picking up some good results in recent weeks, with Kei Nishikori a potential quarter-final opponent.
Should Federer get through those tricky tests, he is likely to be playing Del Potro in the semi-final ahead of a possible clash with Djokovic. That is not a run of matches anyone would expect for a tournament in which they have been made the top seed.
Writing Federer off is rarely a good idea but there are a lot of tough obstacles in his path if he is to defend his title. Therefore, his odds of 5/1 are perhaps a touch too short to back this week.
On paper, Djokovic has a more straightforward route to the latter stages of the Shanghai Masters, although his second match at the event could be against Hyeon Chung. The South Korean reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open at the start of the year and should not be underestimated, although he has not been able to follow up that success to a good degree.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov are in Djokovic’s quarter but according to the seeding he is set to meet Kevin Anderson in the last-eight. Cilic and Alexander Zverev are then among the potential semi-final opponents for Djokovic, as well as British number one Kyle Edmund.
Djokovic has a significantly better draw than Federer, so he is preferred at a price of 9/5.
Del Potro Among Those in Form
While Federer and Djokovic are both coming into the Shanghai Masters a little cold after some time away from the court, Juan Martin del Potro has good momentum having reached the China Open final.
Del Potro, offered at a price of around the 8/1 mark by major betting sites, should face Tokyo Open semi-finalist Richard Gasquet early in the tournament, while Stan Wawrinka, Borna Coric and Nick Kyrgios are all present in his mini section of the draw too.
St Petersburg champion Dominic Thiem could await in the quarter-finals with Del Potro potentially having to beat both Federer and Djokovic if he is to lift the title.
It is asking a lot for Del Potro to come through such a stressful series of matches, but he is having one of the best years of his career and has more than enough talent to win here.
Best Shanghai Masters Picks
It is tempting to see the Shanghai Masters as a straight shootout between Federer and Djokovic and this is how the bookmakers expect it to go, but both players could be a little rusty this week.
Djokovic seems to have the better path through to the latter stages of the tournament, and for this reason I believe he shows more value as a betting prospect. The odds on Federer and Djokovic are just too short to justify a substantial bet on either. You can find Djokovic for around 9/5 at online bookmakers.
Del Potro is another solid alternative, having shown he is in good form with a series of strong performances at the China Open. He is in good form and could go well at 8/1.
Strong value picks are hard to find for this tournament as quality tends to win out in elite events such as the Shanghai Masters. Having said that, Cilic is often underrated in the betting and could tempt at 14/1.
Those happy to back a more unlikely shout who could provide some profit on an each-way basis could take on Tsitsipas (50/1 at Unibet), who is one of the most talented young players on the tour.