The 6th seed Grigor Dimitrov came to Shanghai after the semi-final run in Beijing, where he lost to Rafael Nadal, and he was forced to give his best to prevail against Ryan Harrison, saving 3 match points in the final set tie break for a 3-6 6-3 7-6 triumph in 2 hours and 32 minutes! This was their 5th meeting and the 4th win for Bulgarian, who lost just 4 games versus Ryan at Queen's 4 months ago.
Today's match was completely different and the American digs deep to stay in contention all the time, saving 8 out of 11 break points. Grigor was more solid on his serve, facing 5 break points and losing serve twice, but despite that, he was on a verge of defeat, trailing 4-2 in the final set and 6-3 in the tie break before he won 5 points in a row to cross the finish line first.
Ryan was off to a flying start, with 4 easy holds and a break in game 4 when Grigor sent a forehand wide. The first 8 games were quick and fluid but the real battle was saved for the 9th game when Harrison served for the set.
He wasted 4 set points and gave Grigor a break point, saving it with a service winner, and he clinched the set on his 5th set point, blasting an ace on T line for a 6-3 after 34 minutes. Dimitrov took charge in set number 2, serving better than the American and returning well, creating 3 break points in game 4.
Harrison fends them off to stay close to his rival but he couldn't do the same in game 8, dropping serve for the first time after a great forehand winner from Dimitrov. Serving for the set, Grigor fired 3 service winners in the 9th game to seal the set by 6-3 and send the match into a decider, which developed into an open war on the court! There were 11 deuces and 8 break points in the opening 6 games, and it was Harrison who moved 4-2 in front after a costly double fault from the Bulgarian.
His lead was short-lived, though, as Grigor broke back in game 7 when Ryan netted an easy backhand. They both served well in the remaining 5 games to set up a tie break, the best way to conclude this entertaining encounter, and Harrison built a huge 5-2 lead with 2 mini-breaks.
He had 3 match points at 6-3 but he lost both rallies on Grigor's serve, hoping for a better luck on the third one, on his serve. He went for a serve&volley, which landed far behind the baseline, and that was the crucial ball of the entire match.
Mighty releaved he was still in the contention, Dimitrov fired a forehand winner to take a 7-6 lead and he closed the match with an ace, trying to give some comfort to poor Harrison at the net. Bulgarian had much better winners-unforced errors ratio and he outplayed the American in the longer rallies, and despite that, he almost lost the match and hit an early exit, which just shows how unpredictable tennis could be sometimes.
Alexander Zverev notched his 30th Masters 1000 victory, staying on the court for just 12 minutes before Aljaz Bedene had to retire, trailing 4-0. It was clear right from the start that Briton is not completely ready for this encounter, moving around the baseline slowly and struggling to find the first serve.
Sascha broke him in the second game with a smash winner, and again in game 4 with a forehand winner, to take a commanding lead. Bedene decided to retire at that point, obviously suffering from that knee injury that forced him to quit the match against Roberto Bautista Agut last week in Beijing, when he lost the opening 10 games.
This was a desirable outcome for Zverev, who played in Beijing until Saturday, and he saved necessary energy for the third round clash with Juan Martin del Potro tomorrow. 2014 Shanghai finalist Gilles Simon won 2 matches in a row for the first time since Lyon in May, ousting the 8th seed David Goffin by 7-6 6-3 in an hour and a half for the place in the third round. This was their third meeting and the second win for the Frenchman, who defended his second set well, saving all 3 break points to make the difference.
Goffin was victorious in the past two weeks in Shenzhen and Tokyo but he couldn't keep that pace today, struggling on his second serve and losing serve twice from 5 opportunities he gave to Simon. Gilles, who was the semi-finalist here 12 months ago, had to work hard to stay in touch in the first set, saving a break point in the opening game when David sent a forehand long.
The Belgian had 2 more chances to move in front, wasting 2 break points in game 5 as well after basic errors that will prove to be very costly. In the rest of the set, both players served well and it was a tie break to decide the winner of the opener.
They traded mini-breaks early on and it was Goffin who lost the ground in the crucial moments, double faulting in the 10th point and netting another backhand to drop the breaker by 7-4. Those were the pivotal moments of the set, as nothing could separate them in the other elements.
Things went from bad to worse for the 8th seed, as he made another unforced error to lose serve at the start of the second set, and this gave a nice boost to Simon, who served without troubles until the end of the set. David got broken again in game 9 to seal his faith, handing the win to his rival after a forehand error, ending his 9-match winning streak.
Simon finished the match with 22 winners and just 10 unforced errors, which was better than Goffin's 21-26 ratio, with Belgian failing to control his shots like he used to do in the previous tournaments. Gilles also had the edge in the longer points and he emerged as a deserved winner in the end.
Second round results: