Looking back at the Shanghai Masters
The Shanghai Masters Series is the first big event to take place after the US Open. The top four players in the world were all there; Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Going into the tournament, Nadal had won in Tokyo and Djokovic won in Beijing the week before. Federer on the other hand chose to practice in Dubai for two weeks with British Junior, Ashley Hewitt, which came about because Roger Federer’s coach, Paul Annacone, used to be in charge of men’s tennis in Britain and previously worked with Ashley. What an amazing experience for him. The work with Paul is starting to pay off for Federer, his forehand is looking better and he is willing to come forward more which is a good sign.
The first major shock of the week was Rafael Nadal losing to Jurgen Melzer in the 3rd round. Melzer played the match of his life and won 6-3 in the third set. This has been a breakthrough year for Melzer, the Austrian Number 1; he reached his first Grand Slam semi-final in Paris, won the Wimbledon men’s doubles title, and is currently number 11 in the race for London. Unfortunately for Melzer he lost in the next round to Juan Monaco. Sometimes after a great win you have a dip in form and lose the next match, and that’s what happened to Melzer in the quarter-finals.
Murray, who was in the same half of the draw as Nadal had been impressive all week, especially in his quarter-final match against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. He won 6–2 6-2 and did not drop a set going into the semi-finals. Murray continued his great form and beat Monaco easily to make the finals. It is great to see him playing good tennis again after the disappointment of the US Open.
Novak Djokovic continued his brilliant form from the US Open and is looking like the real deal again. He looks like the player who won the Australian Open in 2008. People in the tennis world are starting to talk about Djokovic possibly being a World Number 1 again.
Federer has been impressive this week especially in the quarter-finals against Robin Soderling, the man who beat him at the French Open earlier this year. Federer had destroyed Soderling 6–1 6-1 to set up a rematch of the US Open semi-final. Djokovic vs Federer was the second men’s semi-final match of the US Open and this week in Shanghai, Federer was looking for revenge. He got it, winning 7–5 6-4. He played superb tennis, played the big points well and never lost concentration.
What a final, Murray vs Federer. Most people including myself picked Federer to win because of the way he had played the big points during the week and because he came through the tougher section of the draw without losing a set. Murray also didn’t lose a set but the highest ranked player he faced was Tsonga, who is not even ranked in the top ten in the world. Murray played great, broke Federer in the first game and got the balance absolutely perfect. Federer was left confused and could not get the balance right between attack and defense. He also gave Murray too many angles to play with rather than playing more behind Murray, or even down the middle. He didn’t attack the Murray forehand enough.
Even so, Murray was brilliant and deserved to be Shanghai champion. The way he played gives us hope he can win a Grand Slam one day. He moved exceptionally well, and for me played his best match of the year. He has now also qualified for the Barclays ATP Finals in London, along with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. The good news for Federer is he is back to world number 2. What a week of tennis.
This week I am going to China to play on the ATP Champions Tour. I am really looking forward to it. Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Pat Rafter, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Tomas Enquist, are all playing so it should be a lot of fun.