Nick Kyrgios will be back in action following a runner-up performance in Beijing when he takes the court against Steve Johnson at the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday. The first-round schedule is also wrapping up with a showdown between Kevin Anderson and Adrian Mannarino.
Steve Johnson vs. (13) Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios’ fall swing is off to a fine start as he heads into first-round action at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Tuesday. In fact, the only players to have defeated him–albeit in the span of just seven matches–during this stretch are two of the hottest players on tour right now (David Goffin in the Davis Cup semifinals between Australia and Belgium, and Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s Beijing title match). Prior to his setback against Nadal, the world No. 21 beat Nikoloz Basilashvili, Mischa Zverev, Steve Darcis, and Alexander Zverev.
Up first for Kyrgios in Shanghai is Johnson, whom he has never faced. The American is in mediocre form at No. 45 in the rankings, but he is coming off a solid performance in Tokyo. That’s where he ousted Dominic Thiem and Alexandr Dolgopolov before succumbing to a red-hot Diego Schwartzman. As the more talented of the two players and certainly with a significant edge on the backhand side, Kyrgios controls the outcome of this contest. That can sometimes be a bad thing for him, but he is playing with confidence thanks to his Beijing performance so he should get the job done without too much trouble.
Pick: Kyrgios in 2
(11) Kevin Anderson vs. Adrian Mannarino
Both Anderson and Mannarino recently played in the biggest finals of their careers–one far bigger than the other–as they prepare to face each other for the fourth time on Tuesday. Anderson, of course, finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open. Mannarino missed out on his first ATP title (again), falling to 0-4 in finals with a loss to David Goffin at the Japan Open on Sunday.
Anderson also played in Tokyo but suffered at early second-round exit at the hands of Ryan Harrison. The South African is still a decent 30-17 for the season, including an especially impressive 17-6 in his last 23 matches dating back to Wimbledon. Mannarino defeated Go Soeda, Jiri Vesely, Yuichi Sugita, and Marin Cilic in Tokyo before running into a red-hot Goffin. The Frenchman is now up to No. 29 in the rankings and in position to be seeded for the 2018 Australian Open. This is an intriguing contrast between Anderson’s offense and Mannarino’s defense, and it is Anderson who leads the head-to-head series 2-1 at the ATP level (all on outdoor hard courts). This should be an entertaining and high-quality affair, with a slight edge going to the world No. 15 in part because he may have more left in his tank than Mannarino.
Pick: Anderson in 3