TENNIS

Djokovic back in business for Shanghai Masters

Novak Djokovic is set to return from injury for this week's Shanghai Masters with Andy Murray threatening to snatch his world No.1 spot

Djokovic back in business for Shanghai Masters
Zhong Zhi Getty Images

Djokovic is back

Novak Djokovic is set to return from injury for this week's Shanghai Masters as Andy Murray continues to close in on his world No.1 spot.

The Serbian has been a outstanding performer in China, and when he won his third Shanghai Masters title last year he was putting the finishing touches on one of the best tennis seasons in history. But since completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open in June, it has been a troubled period for the 12-time major winner who admitted his love for the game was on the wane.

Djokovic crashed out of Wimbledon at the third round and, tearfully, in the opening round at the Rio Olympics, before losing to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final.

Emotional problems

Following that he left his main residence in Monte Carlo to return to his native Belgrade, revealing that he was dealing with emotional problems, as he told reporters, “I neither want to think nor to talk about the number one position, nor to win tournaments or Grand Slams.

A niggling problem with his wrist hampered him in New York. He then pulled out of this month's China Open in Beijing, where he was unbeaten in four appearances, with an elbow injury. And he will need to get quickly back into his stride as Murray, fresh from taking his China Open crown on Sunday, bears down on him in the rankings.

Murray beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) for his fifth title of the year after already winning his second Wimbledon crown and becoming the first back-to-back Olympic champion.

Djokovic and Nadal at the sponsors party, Qi Zhong Tennis Centre in Shanghai today.

Nadal threat

One possible obstacle in Djokovic's half of the draw is Rafael Nadal, although the 14-time Grand Slam-winner is fighting to prove he's still a force at the top of the game. With two titles to his name this year, plus fourth place at the Rio Olympics, the 30-year-old Spaniard is heading for his smallest trophy haul in a season since 2004.

Australia's often-controversial Nick Kyrgios comes to Shanghai in hot form after winning his third tournament of the season at the Japan Open on Sunday. And Wawrinka, the world number three and US Open champion, is returning to action after losing the St. Petersburg final to Germany's Alexander Zverev.

Teenage Zverev, dubbed as "the future of tennis" by Wawrinka, continued his upward trajectory on Monday when he overpowered America's John Isner 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, last year's beaten finalist, romped into the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over German's Florian Mayer.