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  • Gasquet takes on Baker in Shanghai first round

    10/7/12 4:51 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Gasquet takes on Baker in Shanghai first round In-form Frenchman Richard Gasquet has a recent Bangkok title to his credit as he heads into the Shanghai Masters. Up first for Gasquet on Monday is Brian Baker.

    Richard Gasquet and Brian Baker will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they clash in round one of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Monday evening.

    Gasquet is in the midst of a stellar season and his 38-19 record puts him in distant World Tour Finals contention. The 14th-ranked Frenchman has been especially impressive on hard courts. He finished runner-up at the Toronto Masters, reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open, and recently captured the Bangkok title.

    Baker, on the other hand, is going in the other direction. The 27-year-old American will likely earn ATP Comeback Player of the Year honors, but not for his efforts during this hard-court stretch. He reached the Nice final out of nowhere in May and made a stunning fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon, in addition to dominance on the Challenger circuit.

    Having not played for almost six years, all of this tennis seems to have caught up with Baker. The world No. 62 owns a mere two main-draw victories since Wimbledon. Baker qualified last week in Beijing and he also qualified in Shanghai with wins over Zhizhen Zhang and Grega Zemlja, but steps up in competition have obviously been difficult for him.

    That's exactly what this is, because Gasquet is one of the best players in the world right now. Baker should at least be able to make this an entertaining contest featuring great ball-striking. Still, Gasquet in straight sets is the pick.

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