For the second time in as many days defending champion Roger Federer of Switzerland survived a closely contested three set match as he shrugged off sloppy tennis in the second set to beat the challenge of the 2016 finalist Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3,2-6,6-4 on Thursday to keep his hopes of a third title in Shanghai alive. That was the only match to go the full distance as the remaining six matches were won in straight sets while the Croat Borna Coric advanced after third seeded Juan Martin Del Potro retired after losing the first set 5-7 courtesy of an injury sustained due to a fall during the match.
Federer survived a break point in the third game of the opening set but then broke in the fourth game to open up a lead of which was enough to secure the first set. Agut seemed to have lost the plot as he went an early break down in the second set and looked set to lose against the top seed in straight sets for the eighth time in a row.
The Spaniard hung in showing typical grit and broke Federer thrice as he reeled off seven consecutive games against the error prone Swiss. The only break of serve was secured by Federer in the ninth game and then Federer served out the next game to win the final set 6-4 in more or less similar fashion to yesterday’s second round win against the Russian Daniil Medvedev, the champion in Tokyo last Sunday.
Federer next plays the eighth seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan who saved a set point in the first set tie-break in his 7-6(7),6-4 win over Sam Querrey, lone American left in the draw. In the other quarter final in the top half of the draw, Borna Coric will play the Australian Matthew Ebden who ended the run of Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-2,6-3. Both players were coming off a three set win secured in a tie-break in the decider in the second round, but the well rested 51st ranked Ebden proved too strong for the German Gojowczyk, ranked 68th in the world.
In the opening match of the day on center court, another German, the fourth seeded Alexander Zverev was too strong for the fellow GenNext star Alex de Minaur of Australia as he romped through 6-1,6-4. Zverev, coached by the legendary Ivan Lendl, saved all five break points he faced and converted on three out of the four opportunities he had in 68 minute match. Next up for Zverev is the Briton Kyle Edmund who defeated the fast rising Nicolas Jarry of Chile 7-6(5),6-3 on show court 3.
The quarter final line up is completed by the three time Shanghai champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia who avenged his loss at Roland Garros this year against the Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4,6-0. The Italian battled bravely till 3-3 in the first set, but once Djokovic broke serve in the seventh game, the second seed won eight out if the next nine games.
He meets the South African Kevin Anderson who gave his chances of qualifying for the season ending finale in London for the first time as he beat the 20 year old prodigy Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4,7-6(1).
The following then is the quarter final line up with my mentioned first :-
Alexander Zverev (4) v. Kyle Edmund (11) ; Zverev leads 3-0
Novak Djokovic (2) v. Kevin Anderson (7) ; Djokovic leads 6-1
Borna Coric (11) v. Matthew Ebden (-) ; First meeting
Roger Federer (1) v. Kei Nishikori (8) ; Federer leads 5-2.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]