Federer Avoids Another Shanghai Upset With Victory over Ramos-Vinolas

Roger Federer (photo: Shaghai Rolex Masters Mike Frey)

SHANGHAI, October 8, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

Two-time Rolex Shanghai Masters champion Roger Federer avoided another Shanghai stunner when he beat 46th-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 6-2, 7-6(5), in the second round of the ATP Masters 1000 event Tuesday evening at Qi Zhong Stadium in Shanghai, China.

The second-seeded Federer was facing Ramos-Vinolas for the first time since losing in three sets to the Spaniard in this event and round four years ago. While the Swiss maestro came in ranked third just as he was when he fell to Ramos-Vinolas in 2015, this time he made sure there would be no repeat of that performance.

“I was thinking about it. Watched highlights. Remember how it felt. I had my chances. I won many more points that time than I lost, so I should have actually won that match,” Federer recalled during his post-match press conference. “But he did very well there and things turn very quickly here in Shanghai. Of course that got my attention. I know I also played him another time where I beat him very easily in Wimbledon, but (it) doesn’t matter what happened there. Shanghai, in that match, to play him again in the same circumstances, basically I knew (he) could be dangerous, and that’s why I’m very pleased how I was able to control the match out there today.”

After cruising through the 34-minute opening set once he broke Ramos-Vinolas for the first time in the fifth game, Federer and his opponent remained on serve during the duration of the second set. Then, despite falling behind 4-1 in the tie-break, Federer recovered nicely and won the final three points of the one-hour and 24-minute match with a series of impressive forehand winners.

Federer advanced to the third round by hitting 32 winners against 31 unforced errors and he won 17 of 21 net-point opportunities, taking advantage of the quick conditions on Center Court. He faced no break points on his serve. Meanwhile, Ramos-Vinolas managed to hit just 12 winners and committed 19 unforced errors. He was broken twice by Federer, both times in the first set. Federer kept many of the rallies short and won 44 of his 72 points in under five shots.

“I really tried to have good energy out there,” said Federer of his victory, which advanced him to Thursday’s third round against either 13th seed David Goffin of Belgium or 57th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan. Goffin beat No. 52 Richard Gasquet of France, 6-2, 6-3, while Kukushkin eliminated 50th-ranked Miomir Kecmanovic from Serbia on Monday.

“Sometimes, when you travel around the world and you play your first match, you can be a little bit flat. So, I tried to put an emphasis on energy and it worked very well,” said Federer.

“I got out of the box quick, and the second was a bit tight. It’s not always easy to get into rallies and some of the games can get away from you. Ramos had his chances being up in the tie-break 4-1, but it was a nice comeback by me.”

Meanwhile, third seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia began his quest for a sixth final in as many events since Wimbledon with an easy 6-3, 6-1 win over British qualifier Cameron Norrie. The fourth-ranked Medvedev, who arrived in Shanghai leading all players with 54 wins and eight finals overall this year, needed just 54 minutes to beat the 64th-ranked Norrie. Medvedev’s next opponent will be 248th-ranked qualifier Vasek Pospisil of Canada, who took out 63rd-ranked Joao Sousa from Portugal, 6-3, 7-5.

Murray goes the distance against Fognini

Three-time Shanghai champion Andy Murray continued his successful comeback from hip surgery despite losing to No. 12 Fabio Fognini, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (2), in their eighth career head-to-head meeting. The 289th-ranked Murray came in having won six straight Shanghai matches going back to 2016. Twice, he was up a break and serving for the match, at 5-4 and 6-5 in the third. But Fognini broke back twice and eventually dominated the decisive tie-break in the three-hour and nine-minute match on Show Court 3. The victory kept alive Fognini’s hope of reaching next month’s Nitto ATP Finals in London. He’s currently in the 13th place in the ATP Race to London standings, 110 points behind Alexander Zverev of Germany, who currently resides in eighth place.

Fognini finished with 54 winners and 51 unforced errors to reach the third round at Shanghai for the third time in nine appearances, while Murray hit 33 winners and committed 35 unforced errors. Next, Fognini will face either No. 7 seed Karen Khachanov from Russia or 29th-ranked Taylor Fritz of the United States.

Around the Shanghai Masters

• Matteo Berrettini remained on course for one of the three remaining spots at next month’s Nitto ATP Finals. The 11th seed from Italy reached the second round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 38th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany for his 36th match win of the season and 30th since April 22.

• Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, ranked 34th, beat ninth seed Gaël Monfils from France, 6-2, 7-6 (1), while 19th-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime advanced to face sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece after the Canadian’s opponent, 54th-ranked Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, retired during the second set of their match. Auger-Aliassime was ahead 7-6 (5), 4-0 at the time of Bublik’s retirement. By winning, Auger-Aliassime became the second player to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals next month in Milan.

Andrey Rublev of Russia beat 12th seed Borna Coric from Croatia for the third time by hitting 15 aces and losing just 12 points on his service in a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory. The 33rd-ranked Rublev next faces 58th-ranked John Millman from Australia, last week’s runner up in Tokyo, who upset 21st-ranked Guido Pella of Argentina, 6-3, 7-5.

• John Isner hit 18 service aces and faced no break points against 24th-ranked Alex de Minaur as the American beat the Aussie, 7-6 (1), 6-4. Next, the 17th-ranked Isner will face 22nd-ranked Lucas Pouille from France, who overcame a set and an 0-3 deficit to beat Chinese wild card Zhe Li, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4. Also, Reilly Opelka of the United States, ranked 40th, fired 12 aces during a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 31 Dusan Lajovic from Serbia and will next face 2016 Shanghai finalist and eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

• No. 15 seed Nikolaz Basilashvili of Georgia advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 over 23rd-ranked Benoit Paire from France. Next, Basilashvili will face the winner of Wednesday’s second-round match between fourth seed Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who lifted the trophy at Beijing Sunday, and 37th-ranked qualifier Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain.

• World No. 1 and top seed Novak Djokovic will play his first match in Shanghai when he faces 36th-ranked Denis Shapovalov of Canada in a featured second-round match Wednesday night on Center Court, not before 6:30 p.m. local time. Djokovic has beaten Shapovalov twice this year, at the Australian Open on a hardcourt and at the Rome Masters on clay.