Shanghai Masters 2018, Day 4: Zverev marches on as Federer, Del Potro survive
Alexander Zverev was first up on the center court and he played a very solid match to fend off a red-hot Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight, 7-5, 6-4 sets.
The first set was pretty evenly matched with both players breaking serve to start, but it was at 4-4, 15-40 where the turning point arrived when Zverev saved 3 break points to hold on with some big serving, and then two games later, broke the Georgian to take the opener 7-5.
The German defended extremely well, making Basilashvili go for even more on his groundstrokes and that made the Georgian made errors at crucial junctures.
In the second set, Zverev played with more confidence and got an early break as Basilashvili’s groundstroke game broke down a bit as Zverev was not missing much especially on that often vulnerable forehand side.
The German then went on to hold the rest of his service games quite comfortably and with help of some big serves, closed out the match with ease to reach the last 16, keeping his London bid well on course.
He will face the young, Aussie No. 1 Alex De Minaur who defeated the flamboyant Frenchman Benoit Paire with ease in straight, 6-4, 6-3 sets.
Next up on center was the US Open and Beijing runner-up, Juan Martin Del Potro who squeezed through Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-6(7), who was up by a considerable margin in both sets.
Del Potro got off to a slow start as he looked like he was not fully recovered from the flu that he got last week in Beijing and Gasquet capitalized with a break to start the match.
It was all smooth sailing for the Frenchman and he looked in complete control but when serving for the set at 5-4, he played a poor game, making three unforced errors to hand the break back.
Then a game later, he played another very poor game to gift the set to an ailing Del Potro 7-5.
In the second set, both players looked pretty solid on serve despite Del Potro coughing profusely the whole time and Gasquet struggling with some blisters on his right foot as the set headed to a tiebreak.
In the breaker, it was Gasquet who was more solid of the two as he pushed a struggling Del Potro into long rallies, making him bail out of rallies and took a comfortable 6-2 lead.
But just when the set looked all done, Del Potro suddenly caught fire and reeled off four brilliant points in a row, much to the Frenchman’s frustration and somehow squeezed past him into the round of 16 in straight sets.
There wasn’t much Gasquet could have done as Del Potro just brought his A game when it mattered the most. This match was a perfect example of that it doesn’t matter how many points do you win, but which points do you win, and even being under the weather, Del Potro did just that.
He will next face Borna Coric, who won his R2 match yesterday against Bradley Klahn with ease.
On the last match of the day, it was the defending champion Roger Federer who faced off against the in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev and it was the Swiss who got the better of the Russian, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, in a very tight affair.
Federer started the match perfectly, attacking the Medvedev forehand and with the help of the Russian’s early jitters, he got the break straightaway.
But soon, Medvedev settled down and got the break back almost immediately to level the set at 2-2 as Federer started making a lot of errors, especially on the forehand side.
But at 4-4, the Swiss moved up a gear and played a brilliant, attacking return game to get the break at a crucial juncture and closed out the opener 6-4.
In the second set, both players looked comfortable on serve throughout the set, but when Federer was serving to stay in the set at 4-5, Medvedev played a very strong return game and with a little help from the Swiss at 30-30, he took his only chance to level the match.
In the decider, Federer stared down a break point in just the second game, but from then on, showed some great net play to hold and then earn himself a break point, the very next game.
But, Medvedev somehow held on to keep the set on serve. Then, the level of tennis from both moved up a gear but the set still kept going on serve.
Then, at 4-4, 30-30, Medvedev got succumbed to the pressure as he made two unforced errors from the forehand to hand the break to Federer, who served it out comfortably to reach the last 16.
In the last 16, he will face Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated Mackenzie McDonald after being down a set and a break.
Elsewhere, Stefanos Tsitsipas battled it out against Karen Khachanov in what was a very high-quality match and it was the Greek who came out on top with a tight 6-4, 7-6(8) win, coming up from deficits in both those sets.
He will next face Kevin Anderson, who overpowered Mikhail Kukushkin with a 6-3, 6-2 win.
Kei Nishikori, Kyle Edmund and Sam Querrey also got through to the last 16.
THURSDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
CENTER Starts At 1:00 pm
Alex De Minaur v Alexander Zverev
Not Before 3:00 pm
Marco Cecchinato v Novak Djokovic
Not Before 6:00 pm
Roger Federer v Roberto Bautista Agut
Juan Martin Del Potro v Borna Coric