Novak Djokovic had little trouble in putting a positive start to his Rolex Shanghai Masters title defence campaign on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Djokovic spent just 70-minutes on court nailing down a 6-3, 6-3 win over Denis Shapovalov of Canada.
Last year, Djokovic won the Shanghai title without dropping any of the ten sets he played during the week. Last week in Tokyo, he captured the title with a similar scenario of not dropping a set in ten played. The pressure could be on for him to continue that ten-sets won outcome.
Djokovic is playing in only his second tournament since retiring against Stan Wawrinka in the U.S. Open fourth round with a left shoulder injury last month.
“I thought I served really well,” Djokovic said. “I used angles. I was very solid from back of the court. I had no problems with the shoulder pain. That hasn’t been the case for the entire — this week or last week, as well. So, no concerns there. Everything is feeling and looking good.”
Meanwhile, it was all about tiebreakers in afternoon action on the stadium court.
Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece opened play to take his first career win over Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3) and reached the third round.
The two have now played on six occasions – three times in the juniors – and this was the first success story the Greek has enjoyed. Their two other meetings in the pros took place this season in the second-round of Indian Wells and quarterfinals of Queens Club.
Tsitsipas was beaming after finally solving the riddle of defeating the young Canadian.
“Great. Very nice,” Tsitsipas said of his win. “I knew it’s going to be tough, and it was very tough. I think mostly the concentration that I have put and the work that I have put into that match, I still felt like I had to put a lot in order to get that at the end, that outcome.
“I did things differently this time (smiling), but I prefer not to say what I did differently.”
He also discussed the difference between the player he was back in the juniors and now when he’s faced Auger-Aliassime.
“I was 16 and now I’m 21,” Tsitsipas said stating the obvious. “That’s the difference. He’s much younger than me, and the difference; power, strength, movement. I wasn’t the strongest player in juniors, I mean body structure and physique, and wasn’t strongest player, too. I think he was always much more developed than any other player on the tour in the junior circuit. That made him stand out.
“I think as older we get, I’m going to catch up on that. With some other players, too. I think something that probably I’m trying to kind of like cover that deficiency that I have is not concentrate too much on my power and my strength, and how hard I can hit than to probably maybe play smarter and play more with my mind and not with my physical power.”
Tsitsipas will play Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in his next match. Hurkacz upset ninth seed Gael Monfils in the second-round on Tuesday.
Similarly to Tsitsipas, fifth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany survived a tough 7-6 (13), 7-6 (3) battle against French qualifier Jeremy Chardy. Zverev saved three break points in the first set tiebreak to win the set on his sixth set point.
“It was a great tiebreaker obviously,” Zverev said. “We both served incredibly well and didn’t hit a lot of second serves. It was a very intense match, generally speaking. Against Jeremy I always knew it was going to be tough especially on a surface like that, which is lightning fast. I think it’s the fastest surface on tour.”
Zverev, who is of Russian background, will play Russian Andrey Rublev in the round-of-16. Rublev earned his matchup against Zverev with a 6-2, 6-0 win over John Millman of Australia on Wednesday.
In big doubles news on Wednesday the Colombian duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah clinched the year-end No. 1 ATP doubles team ranking after defeating John Isner and Sam Querrey 6-0, 6-4.
Cabal and Farah, who won their first major trophy at Wimbledon in July, are the first all-South American duo to hold the year-end No. 1 doubles ranking since Hans Gildemeister of Chile and Andres Gomez of Ecuador did so in 1986.
What’s On Tap For Thursday
The heavy-hitters will dominate Thursday with Novak Djoikovic, Roger Federer, third seed Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut, the top eight seeds respectively, all in action.
Djokovic and Federer are the two remaining champions (they’re won 36 between them) in the field, and also the two remaining past champions of the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Federer’s won the title here twice before and Djokovic has won it four times, including last year.
Djokovic, the defending champion, will square off against John Isner for the 12th time in their careers and carries a 9-2 edge over the American. Isner, who defeated Lucas Pouille of France 7-5, 6-3, last defeated Djokovic back in the summer of 2013.
Federer will have a chance to improve his career record against 13th seed David Goffin on Thursday. Federer already holds a commanding 9-1 lead over the Belgian, who advanced after beating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-2, 3-0 retired.