Roger Federer produced a dazzling array of shot making as he tamed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3 in only 72 minutes to claim his second title in Shanghai and the 27th at the Masters 1000 level on Sunday. With this win he equals Ivan Lendl with 94 titles, only Jimmy Connors with 109 titles is ahead of the duo.
It was also his 700th match victory on hard courts and a tour best equalling sixth title which he now shares with Nadal. The winning ensured that Federer still has a realistic mathematical chance to usurp the year end world number one ranking from Nadal. The gap is now 1,960 points with three tournaments remaining for the two in Basel, Paris and the season ending finale in London.
[With torrential rain drenching the Qi Zhong Tennis Center the roof was closed and the second seeded Swiss broke Nadal in the first game on his third break point opportunity. He was supreme on serve throughout the match as he did not face a single break point, in the sixth game of the set he served all four aces past a bewildered Nadal. He claimed 83% of total service points in closing out a 6-4 first set.
Federer who still trails 15-23 in career meetings against the Spaniard always looked in command of the match and after breaking the top ranked Nadal in the fifth game he got an insurance second break in the ninth game which ensured he would not need to serve out the match. The loss halts a 16 match winning streak for Nadal who captured the U.S. Open, his third and 16th overall major title, and last weeks China Open in Beijing.
It was Federer’s fourth win of the year against his arch rival, and his fifth in a row. He had beaten Nadal to claim a fifth Australian Open title in Melbourne, and also in the Sunshine double of Indian Wells and Miami which he attained for the third time in his career. Only Novak Djokovic has completed the double of winning Indian Wells and Miami four times in his career.
Federer had won his first title at this event in 2014, having previously finished runner up to Andy Murray in 2010. Nadal was playing his second final having lost the 2009 final to the Russian Nikolay Davydenko, the inaugural year of this event. He is still tied with Novak Djokovic at 30 Masters series titles and he trails John McEnroe’s tally of 77 titles by only two. Nadal win his 75th tour level title last Sunday in Beijing beating the Australian Nick Kyrgios in the final.
Federer now trails Nadal by 1,960 points in the race for the Year end number one ranking. Both players are expected to play in Basel ATP 500 and Bercy Master’s series event in Paris before the season ending finale in London. Astonishingly Federer can still finish number one even if he loses to Nadal in the Basel final, provided he wins both Paris and London and Nadal loses early over there.
Assuming the above scenario Federer will get 2800 points and Nadal will still need more than 340 points to end the year ranked number one. Federer will be going for his seventh WTF title and a sixth year end number one, while Nadal will be going for his maiden WTF title and a fourth year end number one ranking.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]