World No1 Novak Djokovic and 17-times Grand Slam winner Roger Federer will battle for a place in the Shanghai Masters final after they powered through their quarter-final matches.
Gilles Simon of France and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez will also meet in today’s semi-finals as the tournament reaches its dramatic climax. Federer won his evening match against Julien Benneteau of France, taking the first set at the tie-break, before demolishing his opponent in the second to finish with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 scoreline.
The third seed in Shanghai last faced Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, a game he lost 6-7(7/9), 6-4, 7-6(7/4), 5-7, 6-4. The Swiss player is marginally ahead in their previous meetings, winning 18 times, compared to 17 for seven-times Grand Slam winner Djokovic.
“I think every time we play against each other, it’s a thriller,” Shanghai top seed Djokovic said. “It’s really a big challenge for both of us. We need to take the best out of us. We need to bring our ‘A game’ in order to win.”
Federer has been in stunning form this season, and is set to overtake world number two Rafael Nadal in the rankings on the back of his run in Shanghai.
Djokovic marched into the semifinals by overcoming David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2 as he vies for his third successive title. The Serb broke his Spanish opponent’s serve in the first game, but was given a scare as he was serving to take the first set with the scores at 5-4 in his favour.
Ferrer, who dumped out Britain’s Andy Murray in the quarters, saved three set-points against the reigning champion in Shanghai before earning two break points. But Djokovic snuffed out the challenge and finally closed the marathon 12 minute game at the net, pumping his fists with relief as the crowd roared.
He was more dominant in the second set, breaking fifth seed Ferrer again at his first attempt before gaining a 5-2 lead with his next break and closing out the match in one hour 24 minutes.
Meanwhile, Simon continued his great run in Shanghai, overwhelming Tomas Berdych in a scintillating final set to claim his second top- 10 scalp in three days. The world number 29 won 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-0 to enter his second successive semifinal, after also making the last four in Tokyo last week where he lost to Milos Raonic.
The 29 year old will fancy his chances against Lopez of Spain in the semi-finals. The world number 21 beat Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a thrilling match.
As part of the official launch of the 7th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, Sport360° will conduct a Twitter Q&A with legendary Australian tennis ace Pat Cash.
Cash, who won Wimbledon at just 22 years of age in 1987, is an ambassador for the tournament which will once again host some of the sport’s biggest names.
World number 1 Novak Djokovic, reigning champion Rafael Nadal, inaugural winner Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are already confirmed to take part in the 2014 event, with the final two names set to be announced following our Q&A with Cash on Monday.
To be in with a chance of taking part, simply tweet #AskPatCash with your question and we will put them to the 49-year-old to answer.
Whether it be his thoughts on the latest crop of talent in both the men’s and women’s game, his involvement with Mubadala or something a bit more quirky, we want to hear from you.
Find Sport360° on Twitter: @Sport_360
Find Pat Cash on Twitter:@TheRealPatCash
Find Mubadala on Twitter: @MubadalaTennis
The upset frenzy that took over Shanghai this week saw seven of the 12 players who could still mathematically qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in London – and who were in action – lose in the opening two rounds.
That’s hardly what one would expect from players who are supposedly “fighting” for a spot in the elite top-eight season finale.
The Race to London is suddenly more like a “Crawl to London”. The all-star 100m dash we’ve been eagerly anticipating is now a slow heat riddled with false starts.
But then again, can you blame the players? They’ve all had to have a consistent year to get themselves into this position and as the season enters its tenth month, the wear and tear of the tour is catching up.
Heading into Shanghai, Stan Wawrinka (4), Kei Nishikori (5), Marin Cilic (6), Milos Raonic (8), Grigor Dimitrov (11), Ernests Gulbis (13) and Kevin Anderson (16) all had some form of chance to get closer to London.
Five of them lost in their opening match in Shanghai, Dimitrov fell in his second one, while Raonic retired with a virus.
The tour is so demanding that players don’t even know when to rest anymore. Rafael Nadal unwisely played through appendicitis yesterday, Nishikori was playing his 10th match in 15 days across three different countries, while Cilic has had literally just one day off since he won the US Open.
Since we’re no closer to finding out who the five players are that will join Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Nadal in London are, here are ones I think deserve to be at the O2.
The Swiss became the first non- Big Four slam winner in five years at the Australian Open, snapped a 0-12 losing record against Nadal, ended an 11-match losing streak against Federer and also won his first Masters 1000 title.
The Japanese has won four titles this season and made his first slam final at New York, taking out three top-10 players en route.
The Bulgarian finally started to live up to his potential. Made his first slam semi-final at Wimbledon. Has won three titles on three surfaces this season and has four top-10 wins in 2014.
Clinging onto his top-seven status. Made semis in Australia, quarters in Paris and New York. Won in Rotterdam and made three more finals.
Rebounding from a doping ban by winning three titles including a slam. Definitely London worthy.
WTA'S RISING STARS A GOOD MOVE
The WTA are going all out for their season-ending championships as they’ve added a legends event as well as a Rising Stars invitational for four players representing Asia- Pacific and Rest of the World.
Over 700,000 votes were reportedly cast which resulted in Zarina Diyas, Zheng Saisai, Monica Puig and Shelby Rogers being chosen to take part.
While I like the idea, I’m not sure making the Rising Stars event a popularity contest was the right way to go. It’s also unfortunate that Belinda Bencic, arguably the teen of the year, had to pull out of the vote due to scheduling conflicts.
Still, it remains a positive addition to the Championships and I wish the ATP would follow suit. These would be my ATP picks:
Nick Kyrgios (above)
The only teenager in the top-100. Beat Nadal to make Wimbledon quarters. Won three Challengers.
Cracked the top-40. Made last 16 at the US Open and reached his first ATP final in Kitzbuhel.
Beat Gael Monfils to make Wimbledon third round, took a set off Murray in Indian Wells third round.
The 17-year-old just won his first Challenger title. He made the ATP Umag quarters and won a round at the US Open.