ATP Shanghai (Monday 8th October – Sunday 14th October 2012)

In hindsight, the writing was on the wall for my BETDAQ column this past week from a very early stage. To kick matters off, first pick Marin Cilic had been eliminated from the event in Beijing by Romanian wildcard Marius Copil before my column had even gone live on Monday morning! Second pick Tomas Berdych put up a more respectable showing in Japan though before being knocked out by eventual champion Kei Nishikori, a player I had put up just last week as a likely tournament winner. The tone set on Monday morning therefore made it an almost inevitability that Nishikori would not only beat my pick but have the week of his life in lifting the trophy in his native Japan. I’ll take some consolation from the fact that I’m looking in the right areas for winners and shall attempt to do much of the same in Shanghai this coming week

In what is the penultimate Masters 1000 event on tour, the Rolex Masters in Shanghai once again has attracted many of the circuit’s top players as they look to finish the season on a high and potentially secure those all important ranking points to either make the tour finals in London at the start of next month, or for that crucial boost up the rankings to secure that sought after seeding at the first Grand Slam of 2013 in Melbourne. World number one Roger Federer returns to competitive action for the first time since a Davis Cup tie some three and a half weeks ago whilst Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will be looking to maintain the form they showed in Beijing and Tokyo respectively, with Djokovic winning the title and Murray losing a tight semi final to losing finalist Milos Raonic. Federer currently holds the number one ranking on the ATP tour and with both Djokovic and Murray making no secret of their desire to end the year on top of the world, Shanghai could develop into a fairly feisty affair, with all three likely to advance to Saturday’s semi finals. Should this happen, Murray and Federer would meet in one of the semis with Djokovic likely to face one of Tomas Berdych or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman’s bracket looks to be slightly more favourable than Berdych’s, especially when Berdych would need to overcome a combination of tricky players in Andreas Seppi, Sam Querrey, and Kei Nishikori. Tsonga’s passage through may prove slightly more serene but won’t be a walkover if the likes of Milos Raonic have any say in the matter.

In an event littered with top players, it is sometimes difficult to find an angle in for some potential value but I think there could be some mileage in backing Tsonga this week. Finalist in Beijing last week, Tsonga should be feeling fairly good about his game and aside from Nishikori (semi finalist in 2011) and Juan Monaco (semi finalist in 2010), Tsonga can boast the joint-best tournament performance with Gilles Simon outside the ‘big three’ having reached the last eight in 2010. As mentioned previously, there’s a definite opportunity for a player in the quarter that would normally be occupied by a Spanish chap who answers to the name ‘Rafa’. Tsonga should represent a solid ‘back to lay’ option over the next seven days and should have another crack at Djokovic in a semi final showdown on Saturday.

Selection – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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