The Reuters global sports blog
The end of season for the top players can be a tough time because of fatigue; all their work is based around peaking for the slams. With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both out of action (neither have played since the last Davis cup tie) the top two seeds were Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray for the Shanghai Masters Series.
Murray has been playing really well having won in Thailand and Tokyo leading into the Shanghai event. Murray has made a concerted effort to play more aggressively, also the courts are faster and so it actually forces him to play more aggressively which is a good thing.
Nadal on the other hand looked a bit flat in Shanghai and lost to world number 23 Florian Mayer in the third round. It is a match Nadal would not have lost at the beginning of the year; it’s not unusual at this time of year to see Nadal a bit flat. I believe he needs to get some rest and try to recover to have a chance to get back to world number one next year. I am not expecting much from Nadal for the rest of the year but his competitive personality will mean that he will do his best regardless.
Murray on the other hand is looking sharp, once Nadal fell out of the draw he became the heavy favourite to win Shanghai. For the players outside of the top 10 in the world this is a good time to get their ranking up – especially if you are fresh and motivated.
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.
The Spaniard was upset at the noise the crowd, who overwhelmingly backed Nadal, were making during the match.