Swiss champ conquers Russian
DEFENDING champion and top-seeded Roger Federer began his campaign at Rolex Shanghai Masters with a hardfought second-round match, conquering red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 late last night.
The players both took a set each and were level at 4-4 in the decider before the Swiss broke his opponent in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The 20 times Grand Slam champion then held his nerve to hold serve and sealed victory with the first of his two match points.
“It was extremely difficult,” Federer said. “It was a good fight. Medvedev showed why he is so high in the ranking. I tried a bit of everything later in the match, like coming to the net, etc. Now that I’m still in the tournament, it’s a relief.”
Federer will next take on Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.
In an earlier second-round match, Kei Nishikori came back from one set down to beat China wildcard Wu Yibing 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Qizhong Tennis Center’s center court.
Wu, who earned a first ATP World Tour win of his career over fellow Chinese wildcard Li Zhe on Monday, started strongly when taking on the tournament’s eighth seed yesterday.
After being broken in the third game of the first set, Wu broke back in the fourth and eighth game to take a 5-3 lead before taking the first set 6-3 in his next serving game. However, Wu’s aggressive style cost him in the second set and Nishikori punished him to level the contest by taking the second set 6-0.
Nishikori broke Wu in the sixth game of the deciding set to take a 4-2 lead. The home crowd tried to rally Wu but he couldn’t prevent his Japanese opponent from sealing the victory with the second of his three match points.
“I was very surprised at how he played in the first set, good serves and solid forehand and backhand,” Nishikori said. “It was like a world top 20 performance for me, and I could not do anything. I thought about losing the match, but I tried to focus on playing my own tennis, while he dropped his level a bit and I managed to catch up.”
“He was right (about a top 20 performance),” said Wu, who turns 19 on Sunday. “He strengthened the depth of the ball, and is also mature in front of the net. This was a precious opportunity for me to play against him. I did study him before the match. But I did not do well in latter part of the contest.
“Though he said he ‘could not do anything’ in the first set, but a top player like him still managed to find a solution in that kind of situation, and this is something I have to learn from him.”
This is Wu’s third home tournament in a row in after competing at Chengdu and Zhangjiagang. He is currently world No. 415. His best ranking was 299.
“I really enjoy playing at home tournaments,” said Wu. “Whenever I lose concentration, the cheers from fans would urge me to keep playing hard. People all say that I’m a talented player, and my coach has been telling me to think independently. I tried to put on more muscle during winter training, but it just seems hard to get abdominal muscles, which was the same case with my father (when he was a boxer).”
In the earlier matches, fourth seed Alexander Zverev from Germany ousted in-form Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 6-4, and called the Georgian ‘the hardest-hitting player’ he had ever played against.
“I played an opponent who has a lot of confidence. Obviously he is playing the best tennis of life and won (the China Open) in Beijing,” said Zverev, who suffered an early exit in Beijing last week.
The 21-year-old world No.5 will next take on the world No. 33 Alex de Minaur from Australia.
Third seed Juan Martin del Potro did not have an easy time in his second-round match against Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who broke him early in the opening set. The Argentine managed to find his rhythm to come from behind in both sets to win the match 7-5, 7-6 (7). He faces 13th seed Borna Coric from Croatia next.
In other matches, seventh seed Kevin Anderson from South Africa beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-2. Tenth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece overcame Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-6 (8). Kyle Edmund, seeded 11, from Britain saw off Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4.
Wu Yibing returns against Kei Nishikori in the men’s singles second round at the Rolex Shanghai Masters tournament at Qizhong Tennis Center yesterday. — AFP