• Hewitt, Stepanek clash in tough Shanghai opener

    10/9/12 2:08 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Hewitt, Stepanek clash in tough Shanghai opener A pair of difficult first-round matchups are on Tuesday's schedule in Shanghai. Lleyton Hewitt is facing Radek Stepanek and Florian Mayer is going up against Bernard Tomic.

    Radek Stepanek vs. (WC) Lleyton Hewitt

    Stepanek and Hewitt will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers when they do battle in round one of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Tuesday. This marks their first-ever meeting outside of a Grand Slam. Hewitt dominated a pair of 2003 encounters (Australian Open and U.S. Open) then pulled off a 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory at Wimbledon in 2009.

    The 31-year-old Aussie has played sparingly in 2012 due to injuries and he is outside the Top 100 as a result. Hewitt reached the third round at Flushing Meadows but is hoping to bounce back from two disappointing Davis Cup losses. Stepanek is still going strong at 33 years old. The Czech registers at 38th in the world, but--like Hewitt--he is on a three-match losing streak. Look for Stepanek to advance after three competitive sets.

    Bernard Tomic vs. Florian Mayer

    Tomic and Mayer will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers and for the second time in the last two months when they collide on Tuesday in Shanghai. Mayer made quick work of Tomic in each of their two previous meetings; the German rolled 6-2, 6-2 last year in Brisbane and eased to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory last month in Davis Cup playoff action.

    Mayer has not been great in 2012, but he is rounding into form at a time when he often excels. The world No. 25, who stunned Rafael Nadal at this event last year, reached the Metz quarterfinals and the Beijing semis last week (lost to Novak Djokovic). Tomic is a decent 26-25 for the season but he is a disappointing 7-13 in his last 20 matches. Don't be surprised if the 19-year-old Aussie gets another free lesson from Mayer.

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