Shanghai R1 previews and predictions: Dzumhur vs. Rublev, Paire vs. Tiafoe

First-round action at the Shanghai Masters will continue on Monday, when Damir Dzumhur and Andrey Rublev will try to maintain their fine form at the expense of each other. Benoit Paire and Frances Tiafoe are also taking the court.

Andrey Rublev vs. Damir Dzumhur

Dzumhur and Rublev will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers and for the second time in less than two months when they meet again in round one of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Monday. Rublev is leading the head-to-head series 2-0, having prevailed 6-3, 6-3 on the red clay of Istanbul two seasons ago and just recently via a 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 decision at the U.S. Open. The 19-year-old Russian produced his true breakout on tour this summer with a title as a lucky loser in Umag followed by a run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Up to 39th in the world, Rublev upset Jack Sock and Tomas Berdych this past week in Tokyo before succumbing to Alexander Zverev in the quarters.

Almost no one other than Rafael Nadal, however, has been as hot as Dzumhur in recent weeks. The world No. 36 from Bosnia and Herzegovina followed up a third-round showing in New York with his first career ATP title in St. Petersburg and a semifinal finish in Shenzhen. A fatigued Dzumhur had to go up against Grigor Dimitrov in the Beijing opening round and lost in three sets, but that will have him well-rested for Shanghai. Perhaps not the most talented of these two players but certainly the most consistent at this point in their respective careers, Dzumhur should be able to earn revenge for his U.S. Open setback.

Pick: Dzumhur in 3

Benoit Paire vs. (Q) Frances Tiafoe

Paire has been wildly up and down throughout his tenure on tour and nothing has changed during this fall swing as he heads into the Shanghai Masters on Monday. After his first tournament resulted in success (runner-up in Metz), the Frenchman’s next appearance ended abruptly (first-round retirement in Tokyo against Yuichi Sugita). Paire is 30-26 this season and has lost in opening rounds on 13 occasions.

This could be another tough one, because Tiafoe already has two matches under his belt this week having qualified for the main draw. The 19-year-old American, who pushed Roger Federer to five sets at the U.S. Open, ousted Zhizhen Zhang and Leonardo Mayer to earn his place in the field of 56. Tiafoe’s game-plan will be no secret: hammer huge forehands in the direction of Paire’s susceptible forehand and take time away from the world No. 37. It should work, too.

Pick: Tiafoe in 3

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