On A Day Dominated By Heavy Hitters, Medvedev Remains In The Mix At Shanghai Masters

Daniil Medvedev (photo: Rolex Shanghai Masters/Mike Frey)

SHANGHAI, October 10, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

Daniil Medvedev earned his ATP Tour-leading 56th match win of the year at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Thursday afternoon, but it didn’t come easy. While the heavy-hitting third seed from Russia continued his outstanding run of form, he was extended by 248th-ranked Vasek Pospisil during their two-hour and five-minute match. However, the Canadian qualifier failed to convert five set points in the opening set and Medvedev prevailed in the end, 7-6 (7), 7-5, on the Qizhong Stadium Center Court to reach the quarterfinals of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament at Shanghai, China.

“I was down five set points, and also 2-5 (in the tie-break),” said Medvedev following his win over Pospisil, who was the lowest-ranked player in an ATP 1000 round of 16 since No. 467 Taylor Dent at the 2009 Miami Open. “Usually the set is finished, when it’s like this, so I just tried to win every point I had to face, and finally it worked out.”

Medvedev, who has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in London, is enjoying a banner season that includes reaching five straight finals. He’s 26-3 on hard courts since July and has won 42 hard-court matches overall. The 23-year-old Medvedev has reached eight tour-level finals in 2019 and won three of them – in Sofia, Cincinnati and St. Petersburg.

On Friday, Medvedev will face No. 10 seed Fabio Fognini, who took out seventh seed Karen Khachanov from Russia, 6-3, 7-5, in one hour and 47 minutes. The Italian’s victory on Thursday came a week after Khachanov beat him 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 at the China Open in Beijing.

Fognini broke Khachanov to go ahead 3-1 in the first set and rebounded from down 0-2 in the second to advance. He overcame 11 aces from Khachanov by breaking the Russian’s serve three times in 12 tries and saved seven of eight break points he faced. Fognini outpointed Khachanov 84-74.

“I’m happy because I lost to him last week,” said Fognini, who improved to 28-19 this year and moved into 11th place in the ATP Race To London standings. “I was playing really good also. But I did some mistakes at the beginning of the second set, and after he was serving really good and he was pushing the ball really hard. But, I think, today, I was managing everything better than last week, so I’m really happy about my performance.”

Medvedev and Fognini have split their two previous meetings, both on hard courts.

Federer finds his way in Shanghai

Second seed Roger Federer fought off five set points from his aggressive opponent, 13th seed David Goffin of Belgium, and reached his 87th ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal with a 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory Thursday evening. The Swiss star hit eight aces and broke Goffin twice – once in each set – during their one hour and 54 minute match on Center Court. It was Federer’s 10th career win over Goffin in 11 meetings. With his 381st career ATP Masters 1000 win, Federer is now tied for first place with Rafael Nadal.

“We both had chances – he probably had a few more – I must admit,” said Federer during an interview with ATP TV afterward. “I had to play some very accurate shots. … I think maybe I was a bit fortunate to win the first set, but I also played well actually. I fought extremely hard. I served well when I had to at the end. The first set was definitely crucial to get me going and in the lead.”

At 5-all in the opening set, Goffin broke Federer and had the set on his racquet, serving at 6-5. However, Goffin squandered three set points, thanks to two missed forehands and a double fault, and later was stymied by Federer twice during the first-set tie-break while ahead 6-5 and 7-6.

Then, at 3-all in the second set, the 38-year-old Federer broke Goffin in the seventh game when the Belgian netted a forehand return, and went on to serve out the match. He overcame 40 unforced errors by hitting 30 winners, while Goffin finished with 19 winners and hit 30 unforced errors. Federer controlled play at the net by winning 20 of 29 opportunities and outpointed Goffin 90-82.

Next, Federer will oppose fifth seed Alexander Zverev from Germany, who easily beat 33rd-ranked Andrey Rublev of Russia, 6-0, 7-6 (4). Zverev fired 17 aces and hit 33 winners and 28 unforced errors during the one hour and 24 minute Center Court match. He improved his ATP Tour career head-to-head record against the former ITF Junior No. 1 to 3-0.

Quest for 34th Masters title in view for Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic reached the quarterfinal round with a 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 16 seed John Isner of the United States in 75 minutes. The four-time Rolex Shanghai Masters champion dropped just eight points in 11 service games as he improved to 48-8 on the season and moved to within 1,280 points of Rafael Nadal in the 2019 ATP Race To London and the battle for the year-end No. 1.

From 5-all in the first set to a 3-0 lead in the second, Djokovic won 20 of 25 points to take command of the match from the Isner, who hit nine service aces to surpass 1,000 aces for the fifth consecutive season. Djokovic has now won 14 straight sets.

“It’s always a big challenge returning the serve of Isner,” said Djokovic, who improved his career record against the 6-foot-10 (208 cm) American to 10-2. “He’s got one of the biggest serves of all time. He’s one of the tallest guys ever to play tennis. Obviously, with that height, the serve is a huge weapon and huge advantage.

“I managed to kind of read his serve and find a good position on the return, at the end of the first set and also (at the) beginning of the second. I won five games in a row, and that was the key, obviously having a break each set, and then I kind of held my serve. I thought it was one of the best serving matches I had lately.”

Next, Djokovic will face sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece, who advanced over 34th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (5). It was Tsitsipas’ third triumph against Hurkacz in their fourth head-to-head meeting this year and his 44th match victory overall. Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, will bring a 1-1 career head-to-head record into his quarterfinal match against the Serbian. Djokovic beat Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the Mutua Madrid Open final in May after losing to the Greek 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 at the 2018 Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Berrettini advances to face Thiem

Matteo Berrettini of Italy, seeded 11th, upset eight seed Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain, 7-6 (5), 6-4, to reach the quarterfinal round. Berrettini moved into ninth position in the 2019 ATP Race To London with 2,365 points (just 70 points behind eighth-place Alexander Zverev’s 2,435) after starting the day in 10th place. A winner of two ATP Tour titles this season, in Budapest and Munich, Berrettini will next face fourth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria, who advanced over 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia, 6-3, 6-4, in one hour and 17 minutes. It was Thiem’s seventh straight victory and his 40th match win of the year. This is the fourth straight year he’s achieved the 40-win milestone.

By the numbers

• Alexander Zverev fired 21 aces during his second-round victory over Jeremy Chardy on Wednesday. It’s the most aces he’s hit in two sets (in a best-of-3 match) in his career.

• John Isner’s 30th win of the season on Wednesday placed him with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic with the third active streak of 30+ wins in 10+ consecutive years. Nadal has 30+ wins in 16 straight years and Djokovic has 30+ wins in 14 straight years.

What they’re saying

• Stefanos Tsitsipas, once a social media guru, has disconnected from all platforms for now and said it’s improved his life. “I feel much more connected than before with people I care about. I feel more like human and more like me than ever before.”

• Defending Shanghai champion Novak Djokovic: “Because of the history that I had in this tournament and in general in the Asian Swing and lots of success and lots of matches won in my career, I actually feel less pressure because I’m more confident that I can perform at my best.”

What they’re tweeting

After his second-round win against Pablo Carreño Busta on Wednesday evening, Dominic Thiem tweeted: Today was a pretty unique match. It doesn’t happen often that two players compete against each other at Future, Challenger, ATP 250, ATP 500, ATP 1000, Grand Slam events and at the ATP Finals. It’s nice to have this rivalry with you @pablocarreno91 🎾 💫