When Roger Federer won his first Shanghai Rolex Masters title in 2014 he was the oldest champion to lift the trophy at this prestigious event. On Sunday, Federer kept that oldest distinction, but just changed the age on that record to 36-years-old after beating world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in a confident 6-4, 6-3 win under the roof on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The second-seeded Federer, who never faced a break point in the 72-minute match, was on fire from the moment he stepped out on court, and never allowed Nadal to get his footing in the match.
“I don’t know what my expectations were going in,” Federer said. “I thought I might struggle early on because it was a late finish last night.
“I had no nerves before the match, surprisingly. I think I was pretty clear about how I wanted to play the match. I started off very well and relaxed from then on.”
Federer has now won 94 career titles and is tied with Ivan Lendl in second place for titles won in the Open Era.
These two frequent rivals have a very long and storied history. They’ve now played on 38 occasions with Nadal still leading their encounters 23-15. That said, it’s been Federer doing the winning all four times they’ve played this season.
Federer’s won their last five meetings dating back to the 2015 Basel, Switzerland tournament, which marks the first time that the Swiss has beaten Nadal five-straight matches. Nadal’s actually achieved five consecutive wins over Federer three different times in his career.
Sunday’s victory ended Nadal’s 16-match winning streak, which included his win at the China Open last week.
Overall, Federer broke Nadal’s serve three times in the match – in the first game, the fifth game of the second set and the last game, to send Nadal home without the Shanghai title. This marks the second time in Nadal’s career he’s featured in the Shanghai Rolex Masters final – the other time was in the inaugural 2009 event – when he also failed to grab the winner’s trophy.
“Have been a very difficult match for me,” Nadal said. “He played very fast and he played well.
“Of course was not the best match for me of the week. When somebody plays better than you, sport is not very difficult. That’s the real thing, no? When you play against somebody that is better than you in most of the things that really matters in this sport, in this kind of surface, then it’s tougher.”
Nadal had under his right knee wrapped during the match, but didn’t want to comment about whether he was injured following the match.
Sunday was the second consecutive year that top seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia played for the Shanghai Rolex Masters doubles title.
This time around they hoisted the winner’s trophy with a 6-4, 6-2 win over second seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Marcelo Melo of Brazil.
The Kontinen and Peers duo, who won last week’s China Open title as well, were on the wrong side of the final decision last year when they lost out to Americans John Isner and Jack Sock.
“Winning matches one by one and then, obviously, in the end winning the title, that’s great, to do it back to back, last week in Beijing and then here,” Kontinen said. “Losing the final last year and now getting it, yeah, that’s the most pleasing part for me.”
This was the fourth time these two teams have played and Kontinen and Peers now hold a 3-1 winning edge. All four of their matches took place this season.
If there’s one thing that is a given, it’s that each year the Shanghai Rolex Masters attracts a vibrant crowd. The stadium was filled to capacity on Sunday as history was made at Qi Zhong stadium.
This year marked the first time that the top two seeds in the singles and doubles draw squared off in the final.
For now, all the tennis at the Shanghai Rolex Masters has been played for 2017. So it’s time to say, until next year Shanghai, and thanks — xiexie — for a great week of tennis.