Defending champion Novak Djokovic is in the hunt for a fourth career Shanghai Rolex Masters title this week.
His tournament started out in sterling fashion on Tuesday when he bypassed Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-3, 6-3 in a second-round meeting after having a first round bye. This is particularly good news considering Djokovic hasn’t played a match because of a right elbow injury since his defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the US Open final a month ago.
“The first match, I was just pleased to be back on the court, considering I skipped Beijing that I planned to play,” Djokovic said. “I have great memories and success in the past in this tournament, in this court.”
The world No. 1, Djokovic has already won seven titles this year, including his first Roland Garros trophy, which he’d been coveting for a number of years. He now owns at least one of each of the four majors among the 12 majors he’s captured.
Djokovic came into the encounter with a perfect 7-0 match record against Fognini and now with the match in the record books he can boast eight straight victories.
The win finds Djokovic awaiting the winner of Wednesday’s second-round match between Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and qualifier Vasek Pospisil of Canada. Pospisil defeated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 76 (5), 6-4 on Monday, and Dimitrov upset 14th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Anticipation was high for Tuesday’s first-round duel between 11th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium and wildcard recipient Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, and fans were not left disappointed.
The two well-known stars battled through two hours 18 minutes before Goffin squeaked by with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win.
Del Potro, a 2013 finalist in Shanghai, had the first strike when he broke serve in the seventh game of the first set to claim a one-set advantage. Goffin countered in the second set after slipping behind 0-2, coming back to win six of the next seven games to even the score to one set apiece.
The decider featured five service breaks with Goffin scoring the winning strike by successfully challenging del Potro’s serve in the 11th game. While Goffin isn’t known for his serving prowess he closed the match out in style with two consecutive aces.
In another close contest on the day, Feliciano Lopez upset fellow Spaniard and 10th-seeded David Ferrer 7-6 (3) 4-6, 7-6 (4) in a match that lasted two hours 30 minutes.
Lopez served up 20 aces in the match with eleven coming in the first set. His best serving game was the fourth of the first set where he served five aces, three consecutively from 0-30 down.
Second seed Andy Murray, in the hunt for the year-end world No. 1 ranking, will start his Shanghai campaign against Steve Johnson of the USA. Murray is no stranger to Shanghai success having won the title consecutively in 2010-2011, while Johnson’s best is consecutive second-round showings the last two years. Murray’s won both times they’ve played with both matches coming in the last two years.
Fourth seed Rafael Nadal, still trying to find his top form, is missing a Shanghai title from his resume. His best outing at Qi Zhong stadium was a journey to the final in 2007. Nadal will head to the court against Viktor Troicki of Serbia. In five previous matches played, Nadal’s only surrendered one set to Troicki.