A return to doubles form with partner Jack Sock means a busy few days for Vasek Pospisil in China, where he has to move quickly from a doubles title in Beijing (over Davis Cup partner Daniel Nestor) on Sunday to both singles and doubles in Shanghai on Tuesday.
The penultimate Masters 1000-level event on the ATP Tour this season is an opportunity for both Pospisil and countryman Milos Raonic to try to make moves, in an effort to qualify for the year-end finals in London next month.
Pospisil and Sock currently stand ninth in the Road to London standings, with the top eight teams qualifying. The rest of the pack is several hundred points behind the top eight, but there are 1,000 points available to the winners in Shanghai, and another 1,000 for the champions at the Paris Masters in a few weeks. So the race is a long way from being decided.
As for Raonic, he stands 13th in the singles race (down one spot after his early exit in Beijing). But the players ranked ninth through 15th are separated by just 450 points so again, it's far from over even if the top eight have definitely separated themselves from the pack.
Raonic plays lefty Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in the first round in Shanghai; as the No. 9 seed, he missed earning a first-round bye by just one spot. It's the first meeting between the two; If he wins that, he would face Roberto Bautista-Agut, a Spaniard against whom he is 2-0. After that, it could be Rafael Nadal (the No. 8 seed); so that's a tough draw.
Pospisil's section has a little more potential. After qualifier Simone Bolelli of Italy, he could face No. 11 seed Richard Gasquet of France and, down the road, No. 7 David Ferrer. Gasquet has played just one match since the US Open, a first-round loss to Bautista-Agut in Japan. Pospisil has beaten Gasquet twice - including in Shanghai two years ago.
As for doubles, Pospisil and Sock have a popcorn first-round match Tuesday against the Aussie tandem of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios. Beyond the attention on Kyrgios, and the near-certainty that there will be some flashy shot-making, Kyrgios and Sock are very close friends. Too bad the match will be on a smaller outside court, and therefore not available for broadcast or streaming.
Meanwhile, Nestor and French partner Édouard Roger-Vasselin, not completely out of the London race despite having played just five tournaments together, have a first-round bye, but have the No. 1 Bryan brothers as potential quarter-final opponents.
Out in Fairfield, California, several Canadians are in action at a $50,000 Challenger. In addition to Peter Polansky and Philip Bester, who have played the entire circuit, Frank Dancevic will test his newfound burst of confidence against a higher level of opponent after dropping down to the Futures level for four tournament in Canada last month. All three also are playing doubles.
On the women's side, many of the players who have been competing at the ITF level are idle this week, gearing up for two $50,000 ITF events in Canada the following two weeks (in Saguenay and Toronto).
Gabriela Dabrowski is in the WTA tournament in Tianjin, China. With regular partner Alicja Rosolska at the tournament in Linz, Austrlia, Dabrowski is teaming up with American Alison Riske this week.
Struggling 21-year-old Filip Peliwo is playing another $10,000 Futures event in France this week, where he is the No. 6 seed. Peliwo lost in the first round in Nevers, France last week; this week, he's in Saint-Dizier.
(Bookmark this link to keep up with all of the Canadian results around the world this week).