Fed­erer fires to join Djokovic in Shang­hai semi-fi­nals

‘I knew I had to step it up too, and I was able to do it, so it’s a good feel­ing to have’

Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

Roger Fed­erer blazed into the Shang­hai Masters semi-fi­nals with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) vic­tory over Kei Nishikori as the Swiss great’s ti­tle de­fence be­lat­edly caught fire yes­ter­day.

The 20-time Grand Slam cham­pion and top seed will meet 13th seed Borna Coric to­day af­ter the Croa­t­ian de­feated un­seeded Aus­tralian Matthew Eb­den 7-5, 6-4.

The other semi-fi­nal tees up No­vak Djokovic against young Ger­man star Alexan­der Zverev, just the sec­ond time they will have met.

The 37-year-old Fed­erer was forced to bat­tle through the first two matches of his ti­tle de­fence, first to Daniil Medvedev and then Roberto Bautista Agut.

But he put Nishikori un­der the cosh im­me­di­ately, break­ing the eighth seed in the first game of both sets, though the Ja­panese did well to re­cover and force a sec­ond-set tie break.

Fed­erer had to play catch-up in the tie break and said af­ter­wards that he was re­lieved to avoid an­other three-set­ter.

“I saw Kei was play­ing ex­tremely ag­gres­sive, es­pe­cially towards the end of the sec­ond set,” said the Swiss world num­ber two, who has been con­tent with his form this week de­spite be­ing pushed to three sets in his other two matches.

“I knew I had to step it up too, and I was able to do it, so it’s a good feel­ing to have, no doubt about it.”

DJOKOVIC WARY OF ZVEREV

Djokovic said that he was rel­ish­ing fac­ing “top player” Zverev af­ter the 14-time Grand Slam cham­pion beat Kevin An­der­son 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

Djokovic saved set point in the opener be­fore tak­ing con­trol of the tie break and the sec­ond set to dump out the South African sev­enth seed.

The 31-year-old from Ser­bia is in blis­ter­ing form, win­ning Wim­ble­don, the Cincin­nati Masters and US Open in re­cent months, af­ter hav­ing el­bow surgery in Fe­bru­ary.

The sec­ond seed is des­per­ate to grab in­jured Rafael Nadal’s year-end num­ber one rank­ing.

Djokovic and Zverev met on clay in the fi­nal of the Rome Masters in May last year, the 21-year-old Ger­man win­ning 6-4, 6-3.

Djokovic, who en­dured a tur­bu­lent

last sea­son with in­jury and off-court is­sues, said they were “both dif­fer­ent play­ers” now.

“I wasn’t – I feel like – play­ing as well as I’m play­ing to­day,”

he warned.

“But also he has im­proved a lot and he has es­tab­lished him­self as a top player.

“It’s go­ing to be def­i­nitely a close match.”

Touted as a po­ten­tial fu­ture mul­ti­ple Grand Slam win­ner, fourth seed Zverev eased past Kyle Ed­mund to reach his first Shang­hai semi-fi­nal.

The 6-4, 6-4 vic­tory over the 11th-seeded Bri­ton seals Zverev’s place in the sea­son-end­ing ATP Fi­nals in Lon­don next month, which bring to­gether the top eight men.

The top four play­ers in the world – Nadal, Fed­erer, Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro – had al­ready qual­i­fied for Lon­don. Zverev is ranked fifth.

Zverev, now un­der the tute­lage of Ivan Lendl, said he is pleased with his over­all progress, even if a maiden Grand Slam re­mains elu­sive.

“I think ev­ery year you feel more ma­ture. Ev­ery year you spend on tour, you feel kind of dif­fer­ent,” he said.

“Last year was the first time I kind of broke through to the top 10 and was a top-five player.

“It’s al­ways eas­ier to get there – but then stay­ing there is al­ways the tougher part.”

(Reuters)

Roger Fed­erer of Switzer­land cel­e­brates his win against Kei Nishikori of Ja­pan in Shang­hai Masters quar­ter-fi­nals yes­ter­day.

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