Roger Federer, 36, is trying to surpass Rafael Nadal at the ATP summit in what appears to be a similar scenario that Andy Murray applied to Novak Djokovic last year. As in 2016, the gap between the first and the second seat is pretty big although, theoretically, Federer seems to have the upper hand during this last segment of the year. To add something to the existing thrill, Nadal went on winning last week in Beijing (ATP 500) to make Federer's bid even harder. The 36-year-old Swiss seeks to cap al almost perfect season and the possibility to have him at the top of the ranking is still there.

Thus, he will make his first official ATP appearance since the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships where he reached the last eight stages before losing to del Potro.

Roger Federer to take on Diego Schwartzman in Shanghai

Aged 25, Diego Schwartzman (26 ATP) will enter his clash against Federer having lost all their previous three matches. Last time these two have met was on clay in Istanbul back in 2015. Federer won that match in three sets with the Argentine capturing his first and only set against Federer. The winner of this matchup will get either Alexandr Dolgopolov or Feliciano Lopex for the next round.

Weighing Federer's chances for a deep run at Shanghai Rolex Masters, the odds seem to work in his favour.

He shares the same quarter with David Goffin, a strong Belgian who has been on a roll recently winning back-to-back events in Shenzhen and Tokyo. But, his extended run may have some unintended consequences in terms of fatigue and burn out especially for Goffin who is back in the competitive pit after spending few months struggling with injuries.

Federer must cash in while he still can

With Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, and Nishikori out of the table, things tend to go well for long time runners like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The recently ended US Open saw Nadal soaring up to clinch his third title at Flushing Meadows while Federer's lack of fitness seems to have cost him a great chance to get that 20th Grand Slam.

The season is almost done, and the long list of absentees is expected to get shorter before the 2018 Australian Open's starts.

So, for Roger Federer, it's now or never as he is trying to outpass Nadal at the top of men's tennis. But the Spaniard has put things together in a smooth manner making a successful transition from the US Open Series to the Asian leg on hard court. Backing his US Open success with the title in Beijing, he can put an end to Federer's bid right here in Shanghai.