Twelve months ago, Borna Coric was the finalist in Shanghai, battling with Novak Djokovic and hoping for another good run in 2019. Unfortunately, this has been a season to forget for the Croat who lost to Andrey Rublev 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 35 minutes, ending the campaign in Shanghai on the very first obstacle.
It was their third encounter and the third victory for the Russian who lost only 12 points behind the initial shot, facing only one break point and mounting the pressure on Borna who did his best to extend the duel after repelling 11 out of 13 break opportunities offered to his rival.
Andrey had 27 winners and 17 unforced errors, taming his shots nicely and overshadowing Borna's 30-32 ratio, dominating in the mid-range exchanges to bring the victory home in straight sets. Coric saved three break points with winners in the first game of the match before Rublev found the way to seize the fourth chance at 2-2 when his rival netted a backhand, moving in front and holding at love in the next game with a forehand winner to open a 4-2 gap.
With no rhythm behind the serve, Borna had to play against three break points in the seventh game, erasing them all but allowing Andrey to claim the opener with a service winner in game ten. The Russian earned another break in the fifth game of the second set when Coric sent a backhand long, serving for the match at 5-4 and getting broken to keep the Croat in contention.
In the tie break, both players won all points on serve to stay locked up at 4-4 before Andrey earned a mini-break thanks to a loose forehand from Borna, sealing the deal with a forehand winner at 6-4 to advance into the second round and celebrate the 11th Masters 1000 victory.
The 11th seed Matteo Berrettini stormed over Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1 in 61 minutes, dropping ten points in seven service games and fending off both break points he faced, challenging the German to repeat those numbers if he wanted to stay competitive.
Struff was unable to follow Berrettini's performance, getting broken five times from six chances given to the Italian and losing ground in both the shortest and mid-range rallies to propel Matteo through. Berrettini broke at 15 in the first game of the match, moving 4-1 in front after another forehand error from Struff and sealing the opener with a forehand winner in game eight for a 6-2.
Nothing changed in set number two and the Italian was always in control, scoring breaks in games one, three and seven to march over the top and advance into the second round. Reilly Opelka clinched the sixth Masters 1000 triumph, ousting Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in 64 minutes.
Backed by 12 aces and many service winners, Reilly lost nine points in ten service games, never facing a break point and earning one break in each set to seal the deal in straight sets. The American broke in the eighth game of the first set when Dusan sent a volley long and closed the set with four winners a few minutes later for a 6-3.
The Serb squandered game points at 2-2 in set number two, suffering a break that sealed his fate in this match, as Reilly crossed the finish line with three winners in the tenth game. The 16th seed John Isner took down Alex de Minaur 7-6, 6-4 in swift an hour and 21 minutes for the 122nd Masters 1000 triumph.
The American gave away only 13 points behind the initial shot, offering nothing to Alex and converting one break chance in set number two that carried him home. The young Aussie stayed in touch until the tie break in the first set but that was all he could do, with Isner hitting five winners to win it 7-1 and gain a massive boost ahead of the second set.
There, he broke Alex with another deep return at 4-4, forging the crucial lead and closing the match with five winners in the tenth game to reach the second round.