If it’s Friday it must be quarterfinal day at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
As is the usual, most of the big names will be here playing, and still in the hunt for the honour to be the 2018 Rolex Shanghai Masters champion.
Chief among the talented players still in contention this year is top seed and defending champion Roger Federer and second seed Novak Djokovic. Both are familiar with what it feels like to score the Shanghai trophy and would appreciate experiencing that honour again.
Djokovic has taken home the title on three occasions in the past and Federer has done similarly twice in the past.
For the second straight day, Federer had to battle through three-sets to work his way into the quarterfinals. In the end, Federer advanced with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Thursday.
“I’m actually quite happy, you know,” Federer said. “I thought that Bautista really had to raise his level of play in that second set to stay with me. I mean, he really caught fire, I thought. I served, I think, 80% in that second set and got broken twice.”
Federer will now have to bypass eighth seed Kei Nishikori to reach Saturday’s semifinal.
Nishikori booked his quarterfinal slot after battling Sam Querrey of the United States for a 7-6 (7), 6-4 third-round win. Nishikori is playing confident tennis and arrived in Shanghai off of a final showing at the Tokyo tournament last week.
Federer will undoubtedly be a difficult challenge for Nishikori in the quarterfinals. They’ve played seven times in the past and Federer owns a 5-2 winning record. The Swiss has won their last four encounters with his last defeat to Nishikori coming in the 2014 Miami Open quarterfinals.
“I enjoy playing Kei,” Federer said. ’It’s nice to see him back playing very well after he had injuries lately. He had a great run in Tokyo and he’s feeling it again.”
For Djokovic, this latest outing against Marco Cecchinato of Italy on Thursday was one predicated on revenge. They had only played once in the past – in this year’s French Open quarterfinal – and suffice it to say it wasn’t a memorable moment for the Serbian as Cecchinato scored the four-set victory.
Djokovic made that French Open experience a distant memory as he quickly dispensed of the 16th-seeded Cecchinato 6-4, 6-0 to earn his passage to the Shanghai quarterfinals.
Djokovic’s been on cruise control since August having won the Cincinnati and U.S. Open titles ahead of arriving in Shanghai. He’s now operating on a 15-match winning streak, and has won 28 of his last 30 matches played.
“I wanted to start off well because I know that he battles hard and he makes you deserve every point, win every point,” Djokovic said of Cecchinato. I was making him play always an extra shot. I was aggressive when I needed to be. The second set was perfect, really.”
Djokovic will be taking a second go at seventh seed Kevin Anderson this year in the quarterfinals. His memory of their last outing is a great one as he turned back the South African in straight sets to win the Wimbledon title.
Anderson earned his spot in the Shanghai quarterfinals by defeated 10th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Third seed Juan Martin del Potro’s 2018 Shanghai visit ended in disappointment on Thursday night. He took a tumble to the ground at the end of the first set, and despite having his right knee wrapped, decided it would be advisable to retire from the match after 13th seed Borna Coric won the opening set 7-5.
Coric will face off against unseeded Australian Matthew Ebden, who posted a 6-2, 6-3 win over Peter Gojowczyk of Germany, in Friday’s quarterfinals. It’s the second time Ebden has been a quarterfinalist in Shanghai, last time was 2011.
The other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the draw pits fourth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany against Briton Kyle Edmund. Zverev defeated young Australian Alex De Minaur 6-1, 6-4, while Edmund ousted Nicolas Jarry of Chile 7-6 (5), 6-3.