2018 Shanghai Masters Day 2: Novak Djokovic shines, Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem fail to impress
For a tennis fan, as long as you're neutral, there's a certain amount of excitement in watching seeds tumble in the early rounds when you least expect them to, or, at least coming through a stern test to fight for the win. 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters' Day 2 had that excitement in full flow, courtesy some exceptionally praise-worthy performances.
The day's play was headlined by 3-Time Shanghai Masters champion Novak Djokovic. The Serb world #3, who's on a mission to reclaim his Shanghai crown and get closer to finishing the year, ranked #1, faced off against Jeremy Chardy, against whom he'd never lost a set in their previous 11 encounters.
Today as well, he made little work of Chardy to win 63 75 in 83 minutes. He awaits one of the two players who beat him in Grand Slams this year - Marco Cecchinato or Hyeon Chung. The South Korean youngster Chung registered his 1st round win in Shanghai today, following a hard-fought 6-4 2-6 6-1 win over qualifier Herbert Hurkacz.
Australian teen Alex de Minaur also made a good start on the back of his maiden week as Australia's highest ranked singles player, beating Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil 6-4 7-6(4).
The win sets up a 2nd round match-up for him, against another qualifier Benoit Paire, who dismantled 15th seeded Pablo Carreno Busta's defense with a 6-3 6-4 scoreline in two hours and 11 minutes. Croat youngster Borna Coric also registered a comfortable 6-4 6-2 win over Nick Kyrgios' conquerer Bradley Klahn.
Previous week's winners, Daniil Medvedev and Nikoloz Basilashvili both got off to a winning start, albeit differently. Basilashvili completely swept aside a jaded Denis Shapovalov 6-2 6-2 in just 57 minutes, continuing the big-hitting of last week. Meanwhile, Medvedev faced an uphill task against an inspired Ze Zhang, playing catch-up throughout the match, ultimately winning 3-6 7-6(7) 6-4 in almost two and a half hours.
But, the stars of today's play were two players who didn't shy away from executing an offensive brand of tennis all through their respective matches. Australian Matthew Ebden, the latest player to find his groove after turning 30, was up against a recently invigorated Dominic Thiem.
Ebden didn't let Thiem's name weigh heavy on him, serve and volleying his way to a 3rd top 10 win of his career. He beat Thiem 6-4 6-7(8) 7-6(4) to follow up on yesterday's win over Frances Tiafoe.
Meanwhile, Chile's 22-year old Nicolas Jarry, who'd put on steady performances throughout the season to get himself inside the top 50, found himself facing an early exit from the tournament, against 5th seeded Marin Cilic.
The veteran Croat had match points at 6-2 5-4(30-40) and at 6-2 6-6(6-5) in the second set, both of which Jarry saved. Cilic served for the match at 5-4 in the decider but failed, ultimately getting broken again to lose 6-2 6-7(6) 5-7. Cilic's Shanghai record drops to 8-9 following the loss.
The first two days in Shanghai have produced exciting performances and story-lines. Wednesday's schedule featuring big names like Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Juan Martin del Potro, Kevin Anderson, Stefanos Tsitsipas promises to have more eye-catching tennis and noteworthy performances, as the race to make it to London has started to heat up.