ATP Shanghai: Roger Federer ousts Kei Nishikori to reach the semis

Tennis - His next rival will be Borna Coric who took down Matthew Ebden in straight sets

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Shanghai: Roger Federer ousts Kei Nishikori to reach the semis

World number 2 and two-time Shanghai champion has stayed on the title defense course after a 6-4 7-6 win over Kei Nishikori in an hour and 51 minutes. This will be the 63rd Masters 1000 semi-final for Federer and he earned it after playing on a higher level than against Medvedev and Bautista Agut, beating the Japanese for the sixth time in eight matches and for the fifth time in a row after Miami 2014.

It was an encounter of the highest order and after an initial lead from Roger they stayed neck and neck in the rest of the match, with the Japanese raising his level to match Roger's pace and stay in contention until the second set tie break that he could have won as well.

Federer served at 71% and he hit 10 aces, fending off four out of six break points and breaking Kei three times from eight chances (six in the opening game of the match alone) to seal the deal in straight sets. Roger blasted 43 winners, hitting with great pace from both serve, forehand and backhand and he stayed on 35 unforced errors for a very solid performance.

Kei had 27 winners and 24 unforced errors but even that wasn't enough to grab a set, squandering a 4-1 lead in the second set tie break to finish his journey in the quarters and probably missing the crucial points in London chase.

Nishikori had the advantage in the longer rallies but Federer managed to erase that deficit in the shortest points up to four strokes, winning 62 out of 102 to emerge as a winner and stay on the course for the first title since Stuttgart in June.

Roger converted the sixth break point at the start of the match after a lucky net cord and he moved 4-1 ahead with another break in game five when Nishikori failed to control his deep return. The Japanese pulled one break back in the next game after a return winner and a help from the net, building the momentum and staying in touch with Roger for the next 80 minutes.

There were no more break points in the rest of the set and Federer closed it with an ace after 47 minutes. Nishikori faced just one break point in the second set and Roger converted it in the opening game after a costly double fault from his rival who was in a very tough position now.

Kei wasted a break point in the following game and two more in game four before he finally broke back when Roger sent an easy backhand wide in the sixth game. Both players served well in the next five games and Federer served to stay in the set at 5-6, bringing the game home after two deuces to set up a tie break.

There, Kei moved 4-1 ahead after a service winner but it wasn't to be for him, with Roger reducing the gap to 4-3 with two service winners of his own. Another forehand winner pulled a mini-break back for him and he fired another one to take the lead and close the match with a volley winner in the 11th point.

The Swiss made a great comeback in the tie break and he rattled off six winners in a row to advance into the semi-final in the strongest possible way. The 21-year-old Croat Borna Coric has advanced into his second Masters 1000 semi-final after a 7-5 6-4 win over Matthew Ebden in an hour and 33 minutes. Ebden had played in the quarter-final here in Shanghai seven years ago and he fought well today too, saving four out of eight break points and stealing Coric's serve twice which wasn't enough for at least a set.

Borna made the difference with his second serve, winning 14 out of 20 points and dominating in the closing stages of the first and the first part of the second set to seal the deal in straight sets. With these 360 points, Coric will move to a career-high ranking and he could pass Fabio Fognini as well if he beats Roger Federer in the semis.

The Croat had 20 winners and 16 unforced errors while Ebden fired almost 30 aces but also 29 unforced errors, spraying 15 mistakes from his forehand wing and losing the edge in the shortest and longest points to end his run in the quarters.

Matthew drew first blood in the second game after a volley winner but he got broken in the very next game when he netted a volley, allowing Coric to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard. Ebden saved a break point in game seven with a service winner but Borna found the way to break him after a terrible volley from Ebden at the net, closing the opener with an ace in the following game after 45 minutes.

Coric earned another break in the third game of the second set after forcing an error from his rival, firing another ace in game four to move 3-1 ahead. The Croat secured another break in the fifth game after a double fault from Ebden who pulled one break back a few minutes later, reducing the deficit to 4-2 to at least stay in contention.

Nonetheless, Borna served well in the rest of the match and he crossed the finish line with a hold in game 10 for his second Masters 1000 semi-final of the season. Quarter-final results:


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Roger Federer Kei Nishikori Borna Coric