First round action is in full-swing in Shanghai, with a handful of big names in action and the final tournament as the Asian swing is underway. The Shanghai Rolex Masters offers a big opportunity for the Race to London hopefuls and the season enters its final month. Here’s what happened on Monday in Shanghai.
One of the most highly-anticipated first round matches proved to be a bit of a dud, as Alexander Zverev cruised past serve-machine John Isner in two easy sets. Isner was nowhere near his big-serving best, as he surrendered serve four times in the match. He got off to a brutal start, being broken in the opening game of the match and while he would reclaim the break to level at 3-3, he would give it back at 4-4, after missing four break points in the previous game, and Zverev took advantage, serving out the set to love. The second was one-way traffic for the German, again breaking in the first game, this time to love, and adding another break in Isner’s final service game, again to love, to wrap up the 6-4, 6-2 victory in just an hour and ten minutes.
Last year’s runner-up here in Shanghai, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, got his campaign underway with a fairly routine victory over Florian Mayer. The powerful Frenchman, who sits 15th in the Race to London, saved all four break points he faced in the match, while making constant breakthroughs on his opponents serve. After saving break points in the opening game, Tsonga settled in and his persistence on return was rewarded with a late break, which he used to take the set. After Mayer held to start the second, Tsonga got hot again, winning five games in a row with two breaks because the German put another game on the board. Serving out the match proved tricky for the Frenchman, but he finally converted his fifth match point to claim a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
It was a tough but good day for the youngsters, as Taylor Fritz and Kyle Edmund were both successful in gritty three-setters. Fritz took the opening set against Stephane Robert in a breaker before the Frenchman roared back to dominate the second. The American teen heated up late, breaking twice including for the match to win his first Masters 1000 match on foreign soil. Edmund had his hands full with Frederico Delbonis, but bounced back well after a late break gave away the second set, rallying for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory.
Steve Johnson will join his compatriot Fritz in the second round after scoring a straight-sets victory over Martin Klizan 6-4, 6-3. Johnson was forced to battle back in the first after surrendering an early break, but got two late ones of his own before grabbing the lone break of the second set. Vasek Pospisil scored a long-awaited big win after an impressive run through qualifying, playing some opportunistic tennis and outserving the serve-master Ivo Karlovic for a straight-sets victory. He mounted a comeback in the opening set tiebreak before scoring the lone break of the match in the second set, beating the Croatian 7-6(5), 6-4.
In other action, Nicolas Almagro won a battle of veterans with one-handed backhands, topping Mikhail Youzhny in three sets. Benoit Paire was also victorious in three sets, ousting Joao Sousa 6-1 in the third. Mischa Zverev joined his little brother in the second round with a straight sets win, while Viktor Troicki took out Lukas Rosol in straight sets as well.
First round action continues tomorrow, while some of the top ten, including world number one Novak Djokovic, will contest their second round matches.