It was supposed to be a day of smooth, seamless progress for some of the biggest stars at the 2016 Shanghai Masters on Wednesday as second round action continued. Instead it was the departure of top ATP stars that made the biggest headlines.
The foremost among them was the exit of the 2015 semi-finalist and fourth seed Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard crumbled to a 3-6, 6(3)-7 opening round loss, giving the 31st ranked Viktor Troicki his first win over the 14-time Grand Slam champion in six career meetings.
Nadal’s forehand, which has became his Achilles Heel of late, proved to be disastrous again as it kept on breaking down under tremendous pressure even though the Spaniard made a massive effort in saving a match point at 4-5 in the second set. Rafa even started the ensuing tie-break in commanding fashion and secured an early mini-break but it was all downhill from there for the World No. 5.
Troicki came storming back and displayed some ruthless aggression combined with brutal defense to goad Nadal into making unforced errors. It was a brilliant return winner on match point that sealed the win for the Serb in 1 hour 34 minutes.
Nadal was broken twice in this match while Troicki did not face a single break point.
Kyrgios embroiled in tanking controversy
12th seed Nick Kyrgios, who stunned the tennis world last week by capturing his maiden ATP 500 title at the Japan Open, made headlines for all the wrong reasons on Wednesday. Amid allegations of tanking, the 21-year-old slumped to a 3-6, 1-6 loss to 110th ranked qualifier Mischa Zverev in just 48 minutes. During this infamous clash, the Australian was involved in an altercation with a fan who had shouted to him, ‘respect the game’.
The World No. 14 was also rebuked by the chair umpire Ali Nili who reminded him, “Nick, you can’t play like that. It’s just not professional. This is a professional tournament.”
That apparently did not see any visible change in his attitude and at one point after this, the disinterested youngster even requested the umpire to call time so that he could go home.
Berdych, Dimitrov exit
There were other top names who made an early exit from the Shanghai Masters as well. Seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who won the Shenzen Open recently, fell 6(4)-7, 6(1)-7 to Spain’s 43rd ranked Marcel Granollers.
Last week’s China Open runner-up Grigor Dimitrov too joined the exodus. The 18th ranked Bulgarian was edged by the 131st ranked qualifier Vasek Pospisil, 5-7, 6(2)-7.
No problems for Murray and Wawrinka
Second seed Andy Murray avoided the trend of upsets as he continues to dazzle in his Chinese sojourn. The second seed, who won the China Open last week, picked up from where he left in Beijing. The Briton emerged victorious in Shanghai in 2010-2011 and looks confident enough for a third title. The Wimbledon champion needed only 1 hour 14 minutes to dismiss Steve Johnson, 6-3, 6-2.
Another reigning Grand Slam champion was equally impressive as US Open titlist Stan Wawrinka too made a winning start to his campaign. The third seed breezed through his opener, posting a 6-3, 6-4 win over Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
While Murray faces the talented youngster Lucas Pouille next, Wawrinka will take on French veteran Gilles Simon for a place in the quarter-finals.