Fed­erer stunned by 13th seed Coric in Shang­hai semi

‘I thought he was bet­ter, I think he had more punch on the ball. He served bet­ter’

Gulf Times Sport - - FRONT PAGE -

Roger Fed­erer ad­mit­ted that he was lack­ing the “punch” of 13th-seeded Borna Coric af­ter the Swiss great was turfed out of the Shang­hai Masters semi­fi­nals yes­ter­day.

The Croa­t­ian stunned the 20-time Grand Slam cham­pion 6-4, 6-4 in what was an un­usu­ally er­ror-strewn per­for­mance from Fed­erer.

The 21-year-old Coric will face No­vak Djokovic in to­day’s fi­nal af­ter the Serb thrashed Alexan­der Zverev 6-2, 6-1, leapfrog­ging Fed­erer to num­ber two in the world rank­ings.

Fed­erer has not been at his best all week, drop­ping sets in the two open­ing matches of his wob­bly ti­tle de­fence.

The 37-year-old top seed was more like his old self on Fri­day, de­feat­ing eighth seed Kei Nishikori in two high-qual­ity sets. But he made a slow start against Coric, ranked 19 in the world, get­ting bro­ken in the first game.

There was a sub­tle shake of the head when Fed­erer sim­i­larly lost his serve at the start of the sec­ond set.

“I thought he was bet­ter, I think he had more punch on the ball. He served bet­ter,” said Fed­erer, pro­claim­ing him­self pleased nev­er­the­less with his form.

“I feel like I’m ex­plo­sive out there, re­turn­ing well,” he added.

“Serv­ing, I think, it’s okay, could be even a lit­tle bit bet­ter.

“I don’t think I played a match where I didn’t get bro­ken, so that’s some­thing a bit more un­usual for me.”

In con­trast, Coric – who is into his first Masters 1000 fi­nal – was largely un­trou­bled on his serve.

Fed­erer won the Aus­tralian Open at the start of this year but has had a medi­ocre sea­son by his sky-high stan­dards.

He ex­ited the US Open in the last 16 at the hands of un­her­alded Aus­tralian John Mill­man, ranked 55th, and only made the quar­ter-fi­nals at Wim­ble­don.

Coric, who has only two ca­reer ti­tles, has now beaten Fed­erer twice – the pre­vi­ous time was in the fi­nal at Halle this year. Coric de­scribed Djokovic as a close friend.

“I was look­ing up to him since I was re­ally, re­ally young,” he said, call­ing the up­set over Fed­erer one of his best re­sults.

“It’s ab­so­lutely there. If not

the best one, then it’s in the top two or three.”

RUTH­LESS DJOKOVIC Cel­e­brat­ing his 1,000th match in style, the 14-time Grand Slam win­ner Djokovic was clin­i­cal against a shell-shocked Zverev.

The 31-year-old is in im­pe­ri­ous form and this was his 17th ATP vic­tory in a row, as he taught the ris­ing Ger­man star a les­son.

Djokovic will be up to sec­ond in the world when the new rank­ings are re­leased to­mor­row, but he is des­per­ate to take in­jured Rafael Nadal’s num­ber one spot be­fore the year is out.

The Serb, who had el­bow surgery in Fe­bru­ary but re­cov­ered to win Wim­ble­don and then the US Open last month, said: “Be­ing num­ber two af­ter this tour­na­ment is also a great achieve­ment, con­sid­er­ing the first four, five months of the year and con­sid­er­ing I had the surgery.

“And where I was about four months ago and where I am to­day is quite an ex­treme op­po­site.”

The 21-year-old Zverev was off-colour most the match and bad tem­pered at times, an­grily throw­ing his rac­quet at the start of the sec­ond set as Djokovic ramped up the pres­sure.

An in­creas­ingly ex­as­per­ated Zverev is­sued more pun­ish­ment to his rac­quet at 3-1 down in the sec­ond, earn­ing a code vi­o­la­tion and toss­ing the bat­tered piece into the crowd.

“I did what, 24 un­forced er­rors and seven win­ners? I don’t think I’m beat­ing any­one with that, to be hon­est,” said the fourth seed.

(AFP)

Croa­tia’s Borna Coric hits a re­turn against Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer dur­ing their Shang­hai Masters semi-fi­nal yes­ter­day.

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