Federer Shanghai Master
Roger Federer proved once again that 2017 is definitely the year of Fedal after his victory in the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Given the recent dominance of Rafael Nadal and his return to the top of the world rankings many including me thought that he would begin to arrest his recent form against his biggest rival. His form in the US Open and Beijing last week showed progress from his early season form. Rafa has also rediscovered his confidence that had been missing in early 2017. Surely having lost the last 4 on the trot against Fed he would be in the best position to dethrone the Swiss?
Even the bookmakers favoured a Nadal victory. With an improved forehand and serve surely Rafa could solve the Federer problem once and for all. Things didn’t start well for Rafa as Federer brought up two break points in the first game and at 30-40 Nadal decided to serve and volley for variation. He was promptly passed by a Federer dinked backhand which set the tone for the opening set. Roger rilfed through his service games whilst Nadal labored through many of his. Fed took the first set 6-4. He played well and deserved the lead. He was super aggressive and as in previous matches took away Rafas time from his shot making.
The first four games of the second set went with serve but Federer made the decisive break in the fifth. He went on to hold and broke at 3-5 to seal an unlikely victory. Federer unshaven for the most part of the week looked at times grumpy and ill tempered. He started todays match with a point to prove. Hitting only shots that he can and causing Nadal to scamper behind the baseline retrieving balls. We first saw the stubble in the World Tour Finals of 2016 and a few times in 2017 most recently Montreal. Mirka and the kids did not travel to China this week perhaps it is she who packs the razors!
In Tianjin Maria Sharapova hoisted her first trophy in 2 and a half years as she won 7-5 7-against Aryna Sabalenka. Maria looked absolutely delighted to be back in the winners circle once again and will head to Moscow for the final tournament of the year in buoyant mood. Perhaps she can get further matches under her belt and head into the off season in good form.