Juan Martin del Potro is no stranger to success at the Shanghai Rolex Masters as he previously journeyed to the 2013 finals. The 16th-seeded Argentine is still three matches away from another final appearance in Shanghai, but he made headway in reaching the quarterfinals with a hard fought 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany.
Del Potro’s serve delivered the win in impressive style. Except for losing his first service game – the second game of the first set – he put forth a stellar performance of winning nine of 15 service games at love.
“I know how I’m playing now, and I’m playing much better and confidence with my game,” said the 29-year-old del Potro. “Next year will be interesting to me if I stay healthy and I’m feeling in good shape.”
Back in 2009, del Potro was on top of the world. He won the U.S. Open and was a threatening opponent to anyone on the tour. But then a series of injuries – and surgeries – on both wrists kept the momentum from continuing for a number of years.
Now he’s back to being a force to be reckoned with, most notably reaching the U.S. Open semifinals last month.
Thursday was a first career meeting for del Potro against the fourth-ranked Zverev and experience clearly worked in his favour.
He marked his time and struck on Zverev’s serve in the fifth game of the third set. Zverev had a 40-15 lead, but couldn’t hold onto the advantage and surrendered the game, which infuriated the German to where he smashed his racket to smithereens.
“I don’t understand how I can lose a match where I get broken one time in three sets and not manage to get any chances on his serve,” said a disappointed Zverev. “I feel like I played well and I feel like that’s the upsetting part. I feel like I could have done great in this tournament if I get through this match.”
For his part, del Potro believes the 20-year-old Zverev is the future of the game, but a little maturing is still ahead.
The second seed Roger Federer isn’t young anymore – he’s 36-years-old – but he’s playing top of the charts tennis. He needed just one-hour to post a 6-4, 6-2 win over qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.
Apparently, top seed Rafael Nadal, currently cruising on a 14-match winning streak, is also in a rush to get matches done this week in Shanghai.
His first match went all of 54 minutes against American Jared Donaldson on Wednesday. On Thursday, Fabio Fognini of Italy extended the world No. 1 to 63-minutes before Nadal moved onto the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-1win.
“Of course is good news, and especially in this part of the season,” Nadal said. “Is better like this than having long matches. You save a little bit more the body.
“We are (here) to compete, and doesn’t matter how long you are on court. Most important thing is be enough competitive to accept all the situations.”
Nadal did face two break points on his serve in the 4th game of the second set, but held onto the game.
The quarterfinal lineup: Nadal versus sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, Federer versus Richard Gasquet, fourth-seeded Marin Cilic versus Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Del Potro plays Viktor Troicki.