Shanghai R2 previews and predictions: Del Potro vs. Rublev, Pouille vs. Fognini

Juan Martin Del Potro will continue his Shanghai campaign when he takes the court for an intriguing second-round showdown against Andrey Rublev on Tuesday. Fabio Fognini and Lucas Pouille, meanwhile, are battling for the likely right to face Rafael Nadal.

(16) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Andrey Rublev

If you’re a fan of overwhelming racket-head speed on the forehand side, the first-ever meeting between Del Potro and Rublev is the matchup for you. They will go head-to-head in round two of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Tuesday after scoring respective three-set victories on Monday. Del Potro beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, while Rublev produced two breadsticks in a roller-coaster 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 decision against Damir Dzumhur.

The latter contest marked a tough first-round affair featuring two of the hottest players on tour. Dzumhur captured his first career ATP title in St. Petersburg, while Rublev triumphed for the first time this summer in Umag and also made a run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals. The 19-year-old Russian has surged to No. 35 in the world and he owns of 18 of his 30 lifetime ATP-level match wins this season. Del Potro also performed exceptionally well in New York, taking out Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer before succumbing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the semis. The 23rd-ranked Argentine is well-rested now and his experience should see him through this one. Moreover, it is not often than Rublev partakes in a match in which he has a weaker forehand than his opponent.

Pick: Del Potro in 3

Fabio Fognini vs. (15) Lucas Pouille

A third-round showdown with Nadal will likely be at stake when Pouille and Fognini square off for the third time in their careers on Tuesday. The head-to-head series is all tied up at one win apiece, with Pouille having prevailed 7-6(5), 7-6(7) on the indoor hard courts of Paris in 2014 before Fognini got the job done 6-2, 7-6(2) one season later on the red clay of Hamburg.

Pouille opened in Shanghai with a much-needed 6-4, 6-2 rout of Daniil Medvedev on Sunday. The 24th-ranked Frenchman advanced to round four of the U.S. Open, but he has otherwise been a disaster since the spring. A failure to close out winnable matches has plagued Pouille, who held two match points against Nadal in last week’s Beijing first round but missed mostly routine passing shots on both occasions. The rest is history, as the top-ranked Spaniard ended up going all the way to the title. Fognini, who scraped past Fernando Verdasco 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday, is a decent 33-20 this year and just four spots behind Pouille at 28th in the rankings. The Italian is a respectable 5-2 this fall with a runner-up showing in St. Petersburg. As long as Fognini takes the court with the right frame of mind and is able to make this competitive, he should have an edge late.

Pick: Fognini in 3

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