Match between this year’s Australian Open finalists, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic, was completely irrelevant for the rest of the tournament, because Djokovic had secured 1st place in the group on Tuesday and Tsonga hadn’t had any chance to qualify to the semifinals. After winning first set easily, Djokovic had chances in two Tsonga’s service games to take a decisive break: 2:2 (40-15), 3:3 (30-0). Tsonga escaped troubles and in the 12th game broke Djokovic’s serve for the first time in the match to win the second set. Djokovic apparently wanted to save much energy before the semifinals, and in the third set, lost two service games without special involvement. Tsonga notched third win over Djokovic this autumn and gained 20 ranking points to move one place above Andy Roddick in the Champions Race.
In the second match of the day, Nikolay Davydenko and Juan Martin del Potro were fighting for a third spot in the semifinal. Unfortunately their match has been the most one-sided duel in Shanghai so far. Since 4:3 in the first set Davydenko’s advantage wasn’t questionable. The Russian won 8 out of the last 10 games of the match and joined to Murray and Djokovic as a third semifinalist. “Today, I played so good, I feel great” Davydenko said. He advanced to the Masters Cup semifinal second time in four appearances. Del Potro about his first Masters Cup appearance said: “I know these tournaments are very complicated for every player. That’s a good experience for me, for my career. I just need more experience to play better the next Masters Cup.”
(6)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. (2)Novak Djokovic (SRB) 1-6 7-5 6-1
(4)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) d. (7)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 6-3 6-2
Gilles Simon found himself in paradoxical situation: he could have won his match against Stepanek and didn’t walk out from the group or lose that match and play in the semifinal, because his fate depended upon the Murray-Federer match. Simon won easily against Radek Stepanek 6-1 6-4 never facing break point and was hoping that Murray would beat Federer.
The last match in the group stage between Andy Murray and Roger Federer was the longest, the most dramatic and the best (given the quality of play) this year in Shanghai. Murray won 4-6 7-6(3) 7-5, for the third time this season rallied from a set down against Federer. The Swiss had been complaining of back and stomach problems this week but in the first set played his best tennis. Had break points in 4 Murray’s service games, notched 2 breaks of serve (lost own service once, in the 6th game). In the second set Murray led comfortably 5:2 (40-15) on serve but Federer won 4 games in a row, breaking Murray’s serve twice! In the intense tie-break Murray won 7 points, lost 3, and the match went to the deciding set. At the beginning of the third set, Federer had the trainer come out and massage his lower left back. Murray led 3:0 (30-15), but Federer playing unusually many dropshots, had later 4:3 (40-15) on serve – Murray broke back and had double match point at 5:4. That 10th game of the final set was amazing, Murray did two simple errors on first two match points, then both were playing for quite a while on the highest level, there were 10 deuces, Murray had another 5 match points but finally Federer converted 4th gamepoint to level up at 5:5. It was all what the 4-time Masters Cup champion could have done that day, fighting with the opponent and the back pain. Last two games Murray won without too much trouble, converting 8th match point after Federer’s forehand error. The match lasted 3 hours, 1 minute. “A win over Roger Federer means almost as much as winning the Masters Cup to me,” said Murray “He’s the best player of all time.” Federer won’t play in the Masters Cup semifinal for the first time in 7 appearances (4 triumphs, 1 final, 1 semifinal). He said: “I almost made a miracle happen, you know. I can’t believe how close I got, to be honest. So I’m actually very happy.”
(8)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. (alt.)Radek Stepanek (CZE) 6-1 6-4
(3)Andy Murray (GBR) d. (1)Roger Federer (SUI) 4-6 7-6(3) 7-5
Shanghai – Thursday & Friday