Federer saves 5 match points in Shanghai thriller

Roger Federer saved five match points on Wednesday as he opened his quest for a first Shanghai Rolex Masters title.

The third seed, who finished runner-up to Andy Murray in the 2010 final, beat Leonardo Mayer in a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7) second-round victory, which lasted two hours and 42 minutes.

"I think I got unbelievably lucky today," said Federer, who went on to call it his "greatest escape thus far".

It was the second-most match points he has saved in his career. Federer saved seven match points in his 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(10) first-round win over Scott Draper at the 2003 Western & Southern Open.

Federer will play No. 14 seed Roberto Bautista Agut during Thursday’s night session.

Mayer led 3-1, 40/15 in the first set, but Federer dug himself out of trouble. Federer saved one set point when Mayer served at 5-4 and he finally converted his fifth break point opportunity when his Argentine opponent hit a forehand into the net. Federer won four straight games to clinch the 61-minute opener.

Mayer immediately bounced back, breaking Federer in the first game of the second set. He committed just eight unforced errors and won 80 per cent of his first service points to take their first meeting to a decider.

Federer, who began to serve and volley, saved two match points from 4-5, 15/40 in the third set. Mayer will particularly rue missing a short backhand, with Federer at the net, on his first opportunity. Federer saved the second with a big forehand down the line.

Mayer led 5/2 in the tie-break, but could not convert three more match point chances at 6/4 and 7/6. Federer clinched his first match point opportunity with a stunning lob winner.

Mayer is now 1-17 lifetime against members of the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings.

"Could be my greatest escape thus far," Federer said. "I've had some good ones over the years, but this one might just top it all because I was literally out of the point at one stage. I had to come up with some shots that were hard to do anyways. But on match point even more so.

"So I feel a bit sorry for Leonardo, I must say, but that's how it goes. You win some, you lose some.

"Wasn't quite happy with the way I was playing at times," admitted Federer, who was making his first main draw appearance since the US Open. "I was trying to go for an all-time record of missed volleys tonight... The eyes weren't following balls perfectly, I wasn't reading the plays maybe as easily as I was before my vacation.

"But every match I get, every minute I spend more on the court is going to be helpful. I'm happy I get another chance today."

His victory, coupled with Rafael Nadal’s loss earlier in the day, also ensured that Federer would rise to No. 2 in the ATP Rankings next week. Federer, who last held that position on 6 May 2013, will be the first 33-year-old World No. 2 since Andre Agassi on 1 September 2003.

"It's good news," said Federer. "Better moving up than down. Nothing more than that. Clearly I want to move up, play well. Others not playing so well. Clearly Rafa hasn't played for some time; take advantage of that. Plus I didn't win a Slam this year, so it shows even more so how consistent I've actually played and how much I played this year, so I guess I deserve it from that standpoint.

"I'll just keep on playing well… I'm happy I'm playing so much freer this year and so much better."

Federer has an ATP World Tour-best 57-10 match record on the season, which includes three titles at Dubai (d. Berdych), Halle (d. Falla) and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati (d. Ferrer). He is attempting to lift the 81st trophy of his career this week.

Date: 8th October 2014, Source: ATP


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