An­other bat­tling Fed­erer vic­tory

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS - Ma Yue TEN­NIS

ROGER Fed­erer put his lo­cal sup­port­ers through the wire again yes­ter­day be­fore bat­tling through his sec­ond match at this year’s Rolex Shang­hai Mas­ters, beat­ing Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to ad­vance to the quar­ter­fi­nals.

On pa­per it looked to be an eas­ier match for the de­fend­ing cham­pion com­pared to his clash on Wed­nes­day against Rus­sia’s Daniil Medvedev. And so it seemed as the Swiss needed less than half-an-hour to take the first set 6-3.

How­ever, the Spaniard re­acted strongly in the sec­ond set, break­ing his op­po­nent twice to take a 4-1 lead be­fore claim­ing the sec­ond set 6-2.

Bautista Agut then showed great spirit and de­ter­mi­na­tion and made Fed­erer sup­port­ers sweat when tak­ing a 4-3 lead in the de­cid­ing set.

But the crowd fa­vorite hit back, lev­eled and man­aged to break his op­po­nent in the cru­cial ninth game for a 5-4 lead. He then lit up the arena when seal­ing vic­tory with the first of his three match points in his next ser­vice game.

“We had some tough ral­lies from the base­line, like ex­pected, and that’s where Roberto can be very good,” said Fed­erer, who faces Ja­pan’s eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori in the next round. “With course con­di­tions in Shang­hai, es­pe­cially when it’s cool, the ball feels heavy, hard and it’s some­times hard to gen­er­ate as much as you would like and it’s hard to out­ma­neu­ver the player.

“I’m happy be­cause of my match yes­ter­day, I was able to stay more calm even this time and come up with a re­ally good game to break at 4-4 and then serve it out was great.”

The 20-time Grand Slam cham­pion has been hailed by Shang­hai fans and or­ga­niz­ers as ‘a ticket box guar­an­tee.’ Tick­ets for the lat­ter part of the Shang­hai tour­na­ment are usu­ally sold out weeks in ad­vance if the Swiss con­firms his par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The Cen­ter Court of Qizhong Ten­nis Cen­ter was over 80 per­cent full yes­ter­day and Wed­nes­day‚ which is in­cred­i­ble given both are nor­mal work­ing days and the cen­ter is not very con­ve­nient to reach with no Metro ser­vice close by.

Fed­erer also ex­pressed his grate­ful­ness to the sup­port re­ceived ev­ery time he has played in Shang­hai.

“You very rarely get a chance to see a group of guys get­ting to­gether like this, sit­ting in a row, and a few rows up, hold­ing up mas­sive ban­ners,” the 37-year-old said.

“It’s not what ten­nis usu­ally is about. It’s splin­tered groups all around the sta­dium. I feel like that’s very unique here in Shang­hai. They de­vote their time and cre­ativ­ity, al­most like a foot­ball fan, to sup­port me.”

Third-seeded Juan Martin del Potro had to re­tire from his match against Croa­t­ian Borna Coric af­ter the first set due to a knee in­jury. The Ar­gen­tine slipped and in­jured his right knee while tied at 5-5 in the first set. Del Potro, ob­vi­ously af­fected by the in­jury, was bro­ken in the next game and lost the set 7-5 be­fore de­cid­ing that he could no longer carry on play­ing.

Coric, seeded 13, will take on Aus­tralia’s un­seeded Matthew Eb­den in the quar­ter­fi­nals to­day.

In an ear­lier match, sec­ond seed No­vak Djokovic took his re­venge af­ter beat­ing Italy’s Marco Cecchi­nato 6-4, 6-0 for a slot in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

The only other time the Serb has played Cecchi­nato was a quar­ter­fi­nal clash at the French Open when the lat­ter won in four sets.

“The sec­ond set was per­fect. I’m re­ally glad to be able to fin­ish the match the way I did,” Djokovic said. “In the be­gin­ning I was a bit tense, be­cause I missed a lot of break-point op­por­tu­ni­ties in the first three of his ser­vice games. But then that cru­cial break in the sev­enth game of the first set gave me a lit­tle bit more of a relief and al­lowed me to swing through the ball bet­ter.”

The three-time Rolex Shang­hai Mas­ters win­ner will next take on South African Kevin An­der­son for a spot in the last four. An­der­son over­came Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas from Greece 6-4, 7-6 (1) to reach the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Fourth-seeded Alexan­der Zverev from Ger­many also en­tered the last eight by beat­ing Alex de Min­aur from Aus­tralia 6-1, 6-4. He will take on Kyle Ed­mund from Bri­tain who ousted Nico­las Jarry from Chile 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Roger Fed­erer re­turns against Roberto Bautista Agut yes­ter­day dur­ing their men’s third round Shang­hai Mas­ters match at Qizhong Ten­nis Cen­ter. — AFP

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