The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. Roger Federer returns to action at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, where Novak Djokovic will try and keep his China Open momentum going. The ATP Race to London is getting tighter as well, with seven men, including Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov, scrambling to qualify.
Shanghai Rolex Masters
With 1,000 points up for grabs, the ATP's Race to London could see a major shift this week in Shanghai, where the full ATP slate reconvenes for the Shanghai Masters. Four spots remain for the ATP World Tour Finals and qualification could come down the the wire. Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych, and Milos Raonic currently sit in those four spots, with Andy Murray, David Ferrer, and Grigor Dimitrov trying to chase them down. All seven men are separated by less than 1,000 points.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Stan Wawrinka are the top four seeds, marking the first Masters event since the Italian Open to feature all four men. Most notably, Federer returns to action, playing his first tournament since losing to Cilic in the U.S. Open semifinals last month. Djokovic and Federer have been drawn together in the loaded top half of the draw, which also includes a streaking Nishikori, who is coming off back-to-back titles at the Malaysian Open and Japan Open. Murray is also in the top half and could face Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Dimitrov could play Nishikori in the third round.
Nadal, Wawrinka, Cilic, and Japan Open finalist Raonic are in the bottom half of the draw. Though he's tempered expectations over the last part of the season due to his return from injury, Nadal will be looking to bounce back from his disappointing loss to Martin Klizan at the China Open. He could face Raonic in the quarterfinals.
Three of the four Americans are in the bottom half of the draw. John Isner and Steve Johnson could meet in the second round for a chance to play Nadal in the third round. Donald Young opens against a qualifier and could face Fabio Fognini in the second round. Jack Sock, drawn into the top half, opens against a qualifier and would face Nishikori in round two.
Generali Ladies Linz
Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic, Dominika Cibulkova, and Andrea Petkovic are the top four seeds in Linz. Historically the tournament has played a key role in the quest to qualify for the WTA Finals, but with the eight spots all locked up -- Bouchard and Ivanovic are in -- the tournament lost some star power outside its top four seeds. If the top seeds can avoid an early upset, the projected quarterfinals shape up nicely: Bouchard vs. Sabine Lisicki (Lisicki beat her in Beijing), Petkovic vs. Caroline Garcia, Cibulkova vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, and Ivanovic vs. Karolina Pliskova (Pliskova beat her at the U.S. Open).
Most of the American women have chosen Osaka over Linz this week. Two-time champion Samantha Stosur is the top seed with Madison Keys, Elina Svitolina, and CoCo Vandeweghe the top four seeds. Christina McHale, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Lauren Davis, Shelby Rogers, and Sachia Vickery are also in the draw.
Jelena Jankovic is the top seed at the new Tianjin Open in China, a WTA International-level event. Peng Shuai, Belinda Bencic, and Varvara Lepchenko round out the top four seeds. And in a scheduling decision you thought you'd never see, Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta, who are chasing a qualifying spot at the WTA Finals, took a doubles wildcard.