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Federer makes history in Dubai, wins 100th title

Roger Federer made history at the Dubai Duty Free Championships, defeating reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to win his 100th tour-level title.

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Federer in fine form as Switzerland win Hopman Cup

Roger Federer became the most successful player in Hopman Cup history when he led Switzerland to a 2-1 win in an enthralling final of the mixed teams tournament in Perth.

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Federer beats Raonic for Stuttgart title, his 18th on grass

Roger Federer claimed his 98th tour-level title and 18th grass-court trophy, displayed his unrivalled superiority on grass with a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over Milos Raonic in the Mercedes Cup final in Stuttgart.

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Federer cruises past Dimitrov to claim Rotterdam title

Roger Federer celebrated his return to the top of the world rankings with his second title of the season, swatting aside Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tournament in Rotterdam.

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Federer becomes oldest ATP World No.1

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Federer beats Del Potro for eighth Basel title

Roger Federer won his eighth Basel title on Sunday, battling back to defeat the surging Juan Martin del Potro, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 to clinch his ATP World Tour-leading seventh title of the year.

"I think we're both tired from a long season. Plus he's been playing four straight weeks now, very successful, so we tried to give it all we had," Federer said. "The crowd really enjoyed themselves and at the end there is always going to be a winner unfortunately in tennis. But I think we both can be very happy with the week today."

It appeared that the Swiss may fall short in his 13th Basel final when del Potro broke immediately in the third set to snuff Federer’s momentum and gain the lead in the decider. But the now 95-time tour-level titlist broke the Argentine twice in a row to turn the match around. Serving for the tournament, Federer missed out on his first championship point with a forehand error, but hit a crisp serve wide in the deuce court that del Potro couldn’t handle, sending his hometown crowd into a frenzy as he threw both arms in the air.

"You've been playing great tennis this year. You are in fantastic shape, it's unbelievable," del Potro said to Federer after the match. "I would love to be at your age in the same form, but I don't think so."

Federer moved ahead of Ivan Lendl into standalone second place on the Open Era titles list, only trailing Jimmy Connors, who owns 109 trophies. He now owns eight or more trophies at three different events: Halle (9), Wimbledon (8) and Basel (8).

The Basel victory continues Federer's astonishing renaissance, rising from No. 16 in the rankings at the beginning of the year into contention for the top spot with two tournaments remaining in the season. He extended his record against the Top 10 this season to a tour-best 11-1 this week in the semi-finals against David Goffin. That 6-1, 6-2 victory was his most dominant against a Top 10 opponent since the 2014 ATP Finals, when Federer beat Andy Murray, 6-0, 6-1.

For del Potro, Sunday’s loss was disappointing, but he has continued to play excellent tennis since sitting in 47th in the ATP Race To London before the US Open. The Argentine has used semi-final results in Flushing Meadows and Shanghai, last week’s title in Stockholm and his run to the Basel final to pull to within 190 points of Pablo Carreno Busta, who occupies the final London qualifying spot with one week remaining.

"You've been on a great run since the US Open and before so I'm very happy to see you playing so well again and being able to play every week. That's something I would like to be able to do again," Federer said to del Potro. "All the best for Paris and then I'll hopefully maybe see you in London, too."

Regardless of whether del Potro does in fact qualify for the year-end finale, he has set himself up for a strong 2018. The Argentine rose to No. 19 in the rankings on 16 October, his highest mark since 6 October 2014.

While del Potro will move up to No. 17 when the new rankings are released on Monday, he was close to soaring all the way to No. 12, which he would have reached if he closed out Federer in Basel.

The Argentine did not win one point on his second serve in the third set (0/6) and did not capitalise on his chances on Federer's serve. He reached 30/30 when the Swiss served at 3-1 and 4-2, but could not earn a break point.

Federer extended his lead in the pair’s ATP Head to Head rivalry to 18-6, capturing his fifth win in their past six matches. After the final Federer announced he would withdraw from the Paris Masters. His final event of the year will be the ATP Finals 12-19 November in London, where he will chase a seventh title at the season finale.

"My body is asking for a break," said the Swiss legend. "Basel takes a lot out of me emotionally. I had five matches in six days. I feel sorry and sad for Paris. I love to play at Bercy, it's a few times now that I've not played there. It's a tough one but they have to understand that it's for the cause of staying injury-free and healthy.

"I'd like to be fully fit for London and for 2018.

"It was an emotional match," Federer said of his victory. "But a good one, I think, for the fans."

Date: 29 October 2017, Source: ATP and AFP

Federer into 13th Basel final, faces Del Potro again

Pace, precision and poise. Roger Federer was at his ruthless best on Saturday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, turning in a vintage performance to reach the final once again on home soil.

The Swiss exhibited a display of stunning aggression against third seed David Goffin, barely putting a wrong foot throughout their 60-minute semi-final encounter. He would blitz the Belgian 6-1, 6-2, firing 20 winners in total, including 12 on his forehand wing and will face Juan Martin del Potro in the final.

"I'm ready for a difficult match and a fully fit del Potro," said Federer. "He played a great match against me in Shanghai semifinal and went on to win Stockholm. Now he's here in the final again. I think he's ok. He might be tired, but he doesn't have issues that would keep him away from the court."

Federer stood tall on the baseline and refused to allow Goffin to find any rhythm, firing his forehand with alacrity and using his first serve to send a message under the lights at the St. Jakobshalle.

The Swiss would take the opener 6-1 - the third time he has done so this week - with a winner off a forehand approach, and he immediately pounced as the second set got underway. A hyper-aggressive Federer forced a forehand error from Goffin, stealing a break in the first game. He would claim an insurance break with an overhead smash for 5-2 and closed out the victory a game later.

Federer captured 91 per cent (21 of 23) of points on his first serve during the one-hour affair, improving to 11-1 against fellow Top 10 opponents this year. In dropping just three games, it marks his most dominant victory over a Top 10 player since defeating Andy Murray 6-0, 6-1 at the 2014 ATP Finals.

Seeking an unprecedented eighth Basel crown, Federer will next face longtime rival Del Potro on Sunday. He leads the ATP Head to Head series 17-6, with their two most recent meetings lighting up the highlight reel. Del Potro prevailed in four sets in the US Open quarter-finals, with Federer exacting revenge earlier this month at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Federer will feature in his eigth final of the season, looking to extend a 6-1 record. He is riding a nine-match win streak since falling to del Potro in New York, coming off a second title run in Shanghai.

The World No. 2 is still in contention for the year-end No. 1 position. He trails Rafael Nadal by 1,660 points in the ATP Race To London and would need to win the title in Basel and also lift the trophy at both the Rolex Paris Masters and ATP Finals.

Del Potro fought off fatigue to win a battle of former champions 6-4, 6-4 over second seed Marin Cilic.

"I'm surprised and happy to be in the final, it's my fourth week in a row after many years," Del Potro said. "My body is still there. I'm doing well, but in the final, anything can happen. I need to play better against Roger than I did today.

"I'm tired and that is a little bit of a factor, but the only way to play Roger is to be aggressive all the time. Sometimes, even that is not enough to beat him.

"Not many players can beat Roger, the greatest in history. For me it's going to be a great challenge and also a great pleasure to play against him again in his hometown. It will be a great atmosphere, and I will enjoy it a lot."

If Del Potro can earn his third Basel title (2012, 2013) on Sunday, he will pass Pablo Carreno Busta, who currently occupies the final spot, in the Race to London.

Date: 28 October 2017, Source: ATP and AFP

Federer survives to reach Basel semi-final

Roger Federer survived a surprise test at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Friday before making the semi-finals at his home event for the 14th time with a hard-fought 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

The French seventh seed, who had dropped 10 straight sets in four losing matches against the world number two, shocked the home crowd at the St Jakobshalle by winning the first set.

“Today was a battle. I had to somehow dig and fight and sometimes these wins are more rewarding than just leading from the get-go and dominating throughout and bringing it home,” said Federer. “These are better matches to win sometimes, actually. I just had a tough time really getting into it and he was rock solid, so he deserved that first set, but the reaction from me was really important.”

Federer, who is into his eighth ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, seeks to earn his eighth title in Basel.

Mannarino broke to love at 4-4 in the opening set before winning his first-ever set against Federer without a problem. The seven-time Basel champion, intense as ever at an event for which he was once a ballboy, quickly won five games in a row to turn the momentum around.

Yet after failing to break Mannarino with two opportunities in the first game of the deciding set, it was Federer who was in trouble. He faced two break points at 2-3, and the Frenchman did well with his second opportunity, lacing a forehand return on the baseline, a shot that most players would scramble to simply put back into play.

But somehow, Federer flicked his one-handed backhand for a winner down the line and never looked back from there, winning the final four games of the match to advance to the semi-finals.

Federer explained his thought process on that crucial break point save. “Before, I hope that I don’t have to hit a shot like this. During, I hope that it’s going to go in and he can’t reach it. And after, it’s thank God I made it. And then obviously it’s so, so important at deuce to somehow win the game. It doesn’t matter how you do it. you can’t allow yourself to lose a game after saving two break points the way you did, and I held my nerves, held the game, and was able to get through it.”

Federer will face third seed David Goffin who downed American Jack Sock 7-6 (6), 6-3.

Federer holds a 5-0 ATP Head to Head record against Goffin, including a pair of victories in Basel. The Swiss cruised to a win in the 2014 final, conceding only four games, and defeated the Belgian again in a tighter quarter-final match the following year, prevailing 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Date: 27 October 2017, Source: ATP and AFP

Federer races into 15th Basel quarter-final

Roger Federer reached the Basel quarter-finals for the 15th time on Thursday when he steamrolled Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3 as the top seed stepped up his campaign for an eighth Swiss Indoors title.

Federer defeated Paire for the fifth time without a loss, mowing down the challenger in just 57 minutes in front of a sympathetic audience at the St Jakobshalle.

The 36-year-old Federer, winner of his last event in Shanghai this month, is seeking an ATP-leading seventh trophy this season as he aims for the weekend final in his hometown.

"I'm happy with how it went, I'm always ready for a tougher one," Federer said. "I got a good start, got rolling.

"I was able to put more pressure on him than him on me. I've had a good two first rounds. I thought the draw looked tough with Tiafoe and Paire in my section. I'm a little surprised, to be honest.

"It's not easy to win 1 and 3 indoors, this was a great start."

Federer ripped through the opening set and piled on more pressure in the second after Paire took a massage treatment on his back after losing the opener.

World number two Federer remained in command as he broke Paire to love in the seventh game, with the French player sending down his second double fault to drop the game.

Federer made it a comfortable 5-3, with Paire sending a return well wide. The 19-time Grand Slam champion Swiss earned a match point in the ensuing game, which his opponent saved with a service winner.

But Federer didn't relent, his smash setting up a second match-winner followed by an untouchable forehand down the line to end the evening.

Date: 26 October 2017, Source: AFP

Federer routs Tiafoe in Basel opener

Roger Federer thrashed American teenager Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday as the top seed began his week at the Swiss Indoors with a resounding first-round victory.

Federer, who won in a stroll over Rafael Nadal just over a week ago in the Shanghai final, continued his top form in front of the local crowd at an event he has won seven times. The 36-year-old Swiss, who has competed in a dozen Basel finals, made quick work of his 19-year-old opponent, who had taken him to five sets in this year's US Open first round.

"I felt good throughout. The short match didn't matter too much because I have a day off tomorrow. Even if it had been three sets, it would have been OK," Federer said.

"As long as I'm winning, it's all good. I'm just happy to win the first match. Frances was tough in the US Open."

Federer will next face France's Benoit Paire, a 6-3, 7-6 (4) winner over American Steve Johnson. The Swiss has won all four of their matchups without dropping a set. The pair’s last meeting came at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where Federer won 6-1, 6-3.

"The next round with Paire will be tough, he's a dangerous player indoors. I'm happy I've found my rhythm early in Basel."

Against Tiafoe, whom he also defeated last March in Miami, Federer wasted no time in establishing domination of the young gun.

The Swiss quickly rolled 4-0 ahead, with Tiafoe finally earning a game after 21 minutes of play. Federer then produced a love game and closed out the set in 29 minutes on his first set point.

Tiafoe's resistance stiffened slightly in the second set, with Federer achieving the break in the eighth game for 5-3 before wrapping up victory in 61 minutes. Federer improved to 3-0 against Tiafoe.

Federer, who was a ballboy at the indoor event for two years and first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old in qualifying, advanced to 10 consecutive finals from 2006 to 2015, and at one point won five of six championships. His 12 total finals appearances in Basel are the most of any event he has competed in. If he can triumph again, he will capture an ATP World Tour-leading seventh title of the season.

Date: 24 October 2017, Source: AFP and ATP

Federer crushed Nadal to win Shanghai Masters

Roger Federer was at his ruthless best on Sunday, streaking to the Shanghai Rolex Masters title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal. It was a vintage Federer performance, as the Swiss secured the 71-minute win with a dominant display, clinching a second Shanghai crown (2014) and 27th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level.

With the win, Federer notched his 700th match victory on hard courts and improved to 10-1 against the Top 10 this year. It was the 94th title in his storied career, which pulls him level with Ivan Lendl for second on the Open Era list. Only Jimmy Connors owns more trophies (109).

Federer's 2017 campaign continues to set the bar, as the 36 year old added a sixth title and third at the Masters 1000 stage. Having also prevailed in Indian Wells and Miami, it marks the fifth time in his career in which he has captured at least three such championships. Moreover, with the win, Federer draws to within 1,960 points of Nadal for the top spot in the ATP Race To London, with year-end No. 1 still very much in play. Both will be competing at the Swiss Indoors Basel, followed by the Rolex Paris Masters and ATP Finals.

"I don't know what my expectations were going in. I had no nerves before the match, which was nice," said Federer. "I played a great match today with hardly any mistakes. It was very clear for me how I wanted to play and then I came out and started off very well. Felt relaxed from then on. I always know that Rafa can come back at any moment if he connects well, picks the right sides, and does the right things.

"I even felt that way being up 0/40, you know, going for the double break, but, I had a clear game plan and felt I was playing well all week. I think that settled my nerves, because I was returning well from the first match here I played against Schwartzman. The serve only got better. I guess I saved the best for last. I played some good matches now against del Potro and also now these two sets.

"In a way, it's not surprising, because I did feel good all week, and it does pay off to arrive early to an event. You can't do it all the time, but I was here since Thursday late night and that's five, six days to prepare for a Wednesday match. So I was ready."

Nadal leads their ATP Head to Head rivalry 23-15, but Federer is doing his best to narrow the margin, having won their past five match-ups. The trend continued in Sunday's final, with the Basel native capitalising on the fast conditions under the lights on Stadium Court.

With torrential rain drenching the Qi Zhong Tennis Center, the roof was closed for the blockbuster clash of titans. Federer was in control from the first ball, looking to break down Nadal's defence with an assault of forehands and backhands. The attacking Swiss made an immediate statement with a break in the opening game, carving a cross-court slice approach that caught Nadal out of position, followed by a boisterous backhand winner down the line.

In each of Federer's three previous victories over Nadal this season - at the Australian Open and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami - the Swiss won more than 75 per cent of first serve points. His delivery was on song once again in Sunday's final, claiming 83 per cent of total service points in closing out a 6-4 first set.

The second set featured more vintage Federer, as the second seed struck a stunning drop volley winner and forced Nadal to misfire on a forehand to claim the break for 3-2. Federer executed his gameplan to perfection throughout the 71-minute affair, sealing the win on his second match point when a Nadal forehand found the net.

Federer has now won five consecutive encounters in their ATP Head to Head and is 4-0 this year. It marked the third time they have met on Chinese soil, with the Swiss scoring a pair of wins at the 2006 and '07 ATP Finals, when the season finale was held in Shanghai.

"London is my priority now and I really want to win the World Tour Finals. I am very excited to have had the year that I have had and everything that comes from here is a bonus. Finishing the year as World No. 1 is a long shot, and I don't think it will happen. But if I play like this, who knows? Maybe I will get close again," Federer said.

Nadal, meanwhile, was bidding for a record 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. The 31-year-old Spaniard suffered his first defeat since returning to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings in August, seeing his win streak snapped at 16 straight. He was appearing in the Shanghai final for the second time, having finished runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko in the tournament's inaugural edition in 2009.

"It was a very difficult match for me," said Nadal. "He played very fast and he played well. I don't know how many unforced errors he made. I could have done some things better, but that's it. He just played too good. That's my point of view. So congrats to him.

"I played a fantastic tournament, having very good wins. Very pleased the way I played the whole Asian tour for me. Beijing and Shanghai have been a very positive two weeks for me. A lot of points, a lot of victories against great opponents. I come back with very good personal satisfaction the way that I played."

Date: 15 October 2017, Source: ATP and Shanghai

Federer and Nadal to clash in Shanghai final

Roger Federer will face longtime rival Rafael Nadal for the fourth time this season after coming from a set down to defeat Juan Martin del Potro, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. The 2014 champion advances to his third final at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event.

Federer’s win set a crucial showdown with Nadal in the battle for year-end World No. 1. Should Nadal win on Sunday he will stretch his lead over Federer in the ATP Race To London to 2,760 points and effectively put the issue beyond doubt. However, should Federer win his fifth consecutive match over Nadal, he would pull to within 1,960 points. That’s still a lot of ground to make up to finish atop the year-end standings for the first time since 2009, but within the realm of possibility if Federer finishes the year as strongly as he started it.

"It's nice at this late stage of the career that we still have these matches going on," Federer said. "There is only going to be a few chances for either player, and sometimes it's just who blinks at the wrong time."

After failing to capitalise on four consecutive break points while down a set and up 3-2 in the second set, it appeared that Federer might be denied a meeting with World No. 1 Nadal for the second time in as many months by the Argentine, who defeated him in the quarter-finals at the US Open. But when del Potro missed a forehand wide on the fifth consecutive break point he faced, the 29 year old gave the Swiss all the momentum he needed to turn the match around.

"Clearly getting the break and then holding, it's always key in tennis," Federer said. "I'm happy I was able to do it, especially with all the twists and turns and, blink at the wrong time, he might hold the game and then you don't know what's going to happen next."

The 36 year old did not face a break point in the final two sets, and broke twice in the decider to advance in one hour and 58 minutes.

It was unclear just how fit del Potro would be for the match after he fell on his surgically-repaired left wrist in the third set of his quarter-final victory against Viktor Troicki on Friday. His communications manager, Jorge Viale, tweeted that the 2013 Shanghai finalist suffered a contusion, and was in a splint Friday evening. But you would not have known it by watching the right-hander compete against the World No. 2.

Early on, he answered virtually every aggressive shot by Federer with an even bigger forehand of his own, and even stepped into a number of two-handed backhands down the line to gain control of points. The Swiss consistently attacked his opponent's weaker backhand before changing directions to finish points to del Potro's forehand, but the Argentine's rocket of a forehand proved too tough to handle more often than not. On Federer's first break point in the sixth game of the second set, he chose to approach to del Potro's forehand, which came back like a laser from meters behind the baseline, a passing shot that forced a backhand volley error.

But once Federer finally broke through in the 19-point game in the second set, del Potro appeared frustrated, especially with the pro-Federer crowd in Shanghai, which the chair umpire had to ask to quiet down.

"He took the confidence after that game. He broke me and he started to play more aggressive. He served much better after that game. I think he beat me in a good way," del Potro said.

Federer began to use his slice to throw off del Potro's rhythm and extract more errors, and using his openings to be more aggressive himself. The strategy worked, and the 26-time Masters 1000 winner won 37 per cent of points on his opponent's serve in the final set, consistently threatening to break.

Del Potro admitted he only decided when warming up for the match that he would play, having been advised it would not risk his wrist.

"I have been playing good tennis this week, but I felt good during the warm-up before the match, and I decided to play, because against Roger always is an honour to play," said del Potro. "The court was really fast, so maybe that would help my game.

"I think I did well, but Roger played much better than me some moments of the match, and he took the chances."

Federer will meet Nadal for the third time in a final in 2017, after winning the titles against him in Melbourne and Miami. The Swiss also beat his rival in their other meeting, which came in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells, and will look to close a 14-23 deficit in the pair’s ATP Head to Head rivalry.

The Spaniard carries a 16-match winning streak into the final, and will look to extend his tour lead to seven titles this season. Federer will attempt to tie Nadal by claiming his sixth trophy of the year.
Del Potro thinks Nadal is the only player capable of beating Federer in this form on the fast Shanghai courts.

"I think the court helps Federer's game a lot, and he always is in good shape," said del Potro. "He looks like an unbelievable athlete. I think on this court not many players can beat him. Maybe Rafa tomorrow, but if not, he's the only one who can play an excellent tennis on this faster surface.

"Rafa is playing so good, but I think Roger could win if he feels the ball really, really well. Because the court is so fast, and for the game of Roger it is much better than Rafa's game, but Rafa is a fighter and he never gives up. It will be interesting to watch."

Date: 14 October 2017, Source: ATP

Federer to meet Del Potro in Shanghai SF

Roger Federer moved another step closer to earning his second Shanghai Rolex Masters title on Friday with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Richard Gasquet to advance to the semi-finals, where he will play No. 16 seed Juan Martin del Potro.

"I thought it was a really good match. Some big points, important shots at the right time for both guys sometimes to stay even, and we both created chances," Federer said. "I thought we were able to keep up the level from the beginning till the very end. I enjoyed it because it was slices and topspins and angles and power and finesse. I think the match had a bit of everything."

Considering the Swiss entered the match having won the past 15 sets against the Frenchman, all by margins of 6-4 or greater, it looked like the fans in Shanghai might be in for a surprise when Gasquet held a break point while up 3-2 in the opening set.

But Federer held him off and would break at 5-5 to give him the edge that allowed him to win the opening set. He’d break in Gasquet’s next service game as well to jump to an early lead in the second set, but the 31 year old refused to lose touch, getting back on serve immediately.

However, when Federer broke for the third time in the match at 3-3, he would not relinquish the advantage again, and would close out the quarter-final in one hour and 18 minutes.

Federer said during his press conference that he saw del Potro fall and hurt his left wrist during the Argentine's quarter-final victory against Viktor Troicki, and a reporter informed the Swiss that del Potro went to the hospital to get an MRI.

"I hope for him that it's nothing serious. Of course it's on the wrist, as well, that he's had problems in the past, so this is where he's worried, rightfully so. For me, at the end of the day, nothing changes. I'm ready to come out here tomorrow and see the match like it's a revenge chance for the US Open, where it was tight and I couldn't win. So I see that more than his injury," Federer said. "But I hope for now that Juan Martin can recover and we can play a normal match."

Federer owns a 16-6 lead in his ATP Head to Head series with del Potro, including wins in three of their past four matches. But in September, del Potro prevented the first Federer-Rafael Nadal match at the US Open when he eliminated the Swiss in four sets in the quarter-finals.

The No. 2 seed has not dropped a set this week in his pursuit of a third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this season (Indian Wells, Miami), while del Potro has been pushed to a decider in three of his four matches. If Federer gets through what should be a tough battle against del Potro, it will not get easier with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal taking on fourth seed Marin Cilic in the other semi-final.

Date: 13 October 2017, Source: ATP

Federer fights through Shanghai opener

Roger Federer had to fight but eventually came through a tight opener on Wednesday at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, beating Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (4), 6-4 to advance to the third round of the season's penultimate ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

Federer improved to 4-0 against Schwartzman in their ATP Head to Head series and celebrated his 40th match win of the year with the straight-sets victory. The 36-year-old Swiss is now 40-4 during his comeback season.

“I think I served well. I had good concentration. Had good energy, as well, which I think is always important early on in a tournament,” Federer said.

During his first match in Shanghai since 2015, Federer was aggressive as he has been all season. He stepped into flat backhands and attacked the net, winning 14/24 net points. But the second seed did have to shake off a bit of rust in the big moments.

Before Wednesday, he hadn't played a tour-level match since 6 September, when he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals, and Federer saw break point after break point disappear in the first set.

Schwartzman, though, had much to do with that as well. The 5' 7” right-hander is enjoying his best season. He has climbed to a career-high No. 26 in the ATP Rankings and was coming off a semi-final run at the Japan Open Tennis Championships 2017 in Tokyo (l. to eventual champion Goffin).

Schwartzman fended off break points at 1-2 before Federer broke in the sixth game to lead 4-2. The very next game, though, Federer, the 2014 titlist, was broken. At 3-4, Federer again had two more chances to break but Schwartzman saved them all. They headed to a tie-break, where Federer overcame an early mini-break for the one-set lead.

“I knew going in it was not going to be easy. He's had a great run in recent weeks and months. I really felt that he was confident. He was shaking off misses, no problem. He was serving well. You could see he was taking the right decisions on his groundstrokes,” Federer said of Schwartzman.

“As an opponent, you feel that. You could see there was sort of an ease about his game today. I felt like that was going to be dangerous down the stretch of any set. I felt that tie-break was tough. I was down and then came up with some really good shot-making after that in the 'breaker to really turn it around.”

Federer can't afford to let this opportunity for a big week in Shanghai slip if he wants to stay competitive in the battle for year-end No. 1. Rafael Nadal, who also won on Wednesday, is more than 2,000 points ahead of the Swiss star.

The Basel native made life more straightforward during the second set. He broke to love to start and cruised to his 28th hard-court match win of the season (28-3). The right-hander is going for his sixth tour-level title of the year and his third Masters 1000 crown, having won the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March and the Miami Open in April.

“I think getting the break early in the second set gave me the chance to try a few more things, play more relaxed, go for my shots more, and then I was able to bring it home, coming back from 0/30 I think in the last game,” Federer said. “So it was a good match for me. I'm actually very happy with my level.”

He will next face Ukraine's Alexander Dolgopolov, who beat Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4.

Date: 11 October 2017, Source: ATP

Federer: "Shanghai is one of the goals of the season"

Ahead of his first match at the 2017 Shanghai Rolex Masters, Roger Federer announced his intentions to walk away with his second trophy from QiZhong Stadium. The 19-time winner of majors said that his focus was not on catching Rafael Nadal for the top spot but was “right here, right now on Shanghai. Nothing else”.

Playing his first Tour event since the quarters of the US Open where he was hampered by a back injury, Federer said his training has been geared towards performing well this week. Federer arrived in Shanghai on Thursday night, as early as he’s ever been here.

“I have been practicing for hours on the centre court,” he said. “Have been kept busy, as well, which gets me into the right mindset, to be quite honest, because I’m here for a reason, here for a purpose, trying to do well, hopefully winning the tournament.

“It’s definitely one of the goals of the season for me here, this tournament. I always make it as a priority that I will be in good shape for Shanghai.”

Immensely popular in China, Federer is happy to be back after missing last year’s tournament with injury. He added: “Maybe some fans here in China or Shanghai thought I might never come back. I never thought this way, but now that I’m here I feel fans are really, really excited to see me.

“They are always there at my practice, they were there at the airport, they were there when I’m leaving from the airport, they are at any event almost I’m doing to get a glimpse of me which is very cool.”

Federer calls Shanghai his “second home away from home”, having opened the Qi Zhong Stadium here back in 2005. This year, Federer’s been making the most of his trip to Shanghai, having been spotted at an NBA game and even getting a metro line dedicated to him.

The Metro experience was a great one,” he said. “I grew up on public transport when I was younger in Switzerland. I used to take either tram, train, or bus to practice on a daily basis, and then also a lot of the train until about 20 years old, going to tournaments even to Italy, even internationally. So for me it's something very normal.

Fun and games aside, the 36-year-old says his focus is different compared to his younger years. “It’s short now. It’s compressed. So it’s week by week, and just try to do your absolute best. I have played extremely well this part of the season, but, you know, every year is different,” he said.

Despite owning 93 titles, putting him third on the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, Federer says he’s far from done for the year despite having one of his best seasons ever: “I’d like to win a couple of tournaments. That’s the goal. But we’ll see how it goes. It all starts here on Wednesday,” he said.

The No. 2 seed is pitted in the same half of the draw as recent ATP Finals qualifier, German Alexander Zverev, with the pair due to face off in the semi-finals in what would be a rematch of their Coupe Rogers final in Montreal, where Zverev triumphed.

I couldn't be happier with the season, to be quite honest,” Federer said. “I'm relieved that I'm feeling better since the American summer and Canada.

The Swiss will open against the winner of Rakuten Japan Open semi-finalist Diego Schwartzman and Australian qualifier Jordan Thompson in the second round.

Date: 9 October 2017, Source: Shanghai Masters and ATP