Shanghai Masters 2011: 5 Bold Predictions for the Rest of the Tournament

Jeff Cohn@jeff_cohnCorrespondent IIIOctober 12, 2011

Shanghai Masters 2011: 5 Bold Predictions for the Rest of the Tournament

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    The Shanghai ATP Masters event is always a delight to watch—the speed of the Chinese courts, the lengthy and jaw-dropping rallies and the matchups have been consistently strong over the past few years.

    However, with the withdrawal of both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, there is not that much to watch for in this typically sizzling tournament.

    With Rafael Nadal as the No. 1 seed and Andy Murray as the defending champion, it seems sensible to pick the chosen two to make the finals.

    Nevertheless, here are some bold predictions for the remainder of the tournament. 

Ryan Harrison Will Make a Deep Run

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    The American youngster has a knack for challenging incredibly talented players in big tournaments.

    With his first-round upset over 11th-seed Viktor Troicki in straight sets, he looks clear to progress through the draw until at least the third round, wherein he would face Gilles Simon.

    If he manages to knock off the Frenchman as well, he could be labeled a threat to Andy Murray's title defense.

Bernard Tomic or Alexandr Dolgopolov Will Top Their Quarter

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    With Tomic's huge win over Mardy Fish (especially after losing to him in last week's Rakuten Open in Japan), he should look to face the Ukrainian in the next round.

    Although giants such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jurgen Melzer are present in the same quarter of the draw, the two talented young guns, Bernard and Alexandr, will face each other to determine who will advance to the semifinals.

David Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco Will Top Their Quarter

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    Although this assumption seems obvious, neither player has been rock-solid as of late.

    Fernando Verdasco, the unfortunately notorious slow-starter in nearly every match, has immense talent and can harness his weapons effectively against any player.

    With many of his Spanish compatriots in the mix (Ferrero and Almagro in the same section), Verdasco should have even more motivation to prove that he belongs above most of them in the rankings.

    David Ferrer has been consistent this year but got manhandled by the Scot, Andy Murray, in the Rakuten Open. The scrappy player did not have control of much of that match, but nobody in his current quarter besides Verdasco should be able to take the ball to him the way that Andy was able to.

    Milos Raonic has a chance to upset Ferrer as well, but since the Spaniard has always been exceptional at taking on the Canadian, even before he underwent hip surgery, it is hard to write him off as the loser in that encounter.

Tomas Berdych and Florian Mayer Will Test Rafael Nadal

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    Who could forget Tomas Berdych? The answer is: almost everybody—even after he defeated Roger Federer in straight sets just a couple of months ago.

    He is still a force to be reckoned with and can potentially advance to the semifinals if he plays his attacking game against Nadal and executes well.

    As for the still little-known German, Florian Mayer, his variety could give Rafa a tough time, much like Bernard Tomic's did when they first faced one another.

    An upset could occur there, but it is unlikely because the No. 1 and 2 seeds should soar all the way to the final. 

Andy Murray Will Defeat Rafael Nadal

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    This photograph is a terrific example of why Murray can defeat Rafa in back-to-back finals.

    He turns into "Aggressive Murray" when facing the Spaniard, and he puts more weight on his legs when hitting through the ball on the backhand side to drive it flatter to his opponent's forehand.

    With the exception of the first set, Murray demolished Rafa in an absolutely brilliant performance in the Rakuten Open final.

    Could Andy Murray be getting into Rafa's head as well?

    We shall wait and see if Andy can retain his title trophy in Shanghai. 

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