SHANGHAI: Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer crashed out to little-known Spanish left-hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a major shock in his opening match at the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday.
Defending title-holder Federer was stunned 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3 by the world number 70, who is yet to claim his first career title and has only won three matches in total at the Grand Slam tournaments.
Federer, 34, gave a thin smile and a wave to the crowd, which included his idol Rod Laver, as he left a shocked Qi Zhong Stadium, where he lifted the trophy last year and won the 2006 and 2007 Tennis Masters Cup.
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“I just think the first round here in Shanghai has always been historically quite difficult, getting used to the conditions and the surface and the balls,” said Federer, who saved five match points against Leonardo Mayer in his opening match last year. “Last year I got lucky. This year I didn’t. So it’s a pity.”
Ramos-Vinolas is the lowest-ranked competitor to beat the world number three in more than two years, since he lost to Argentina’s 114th-listed Federico Delbonis in the Hamburg semi-finals in July 2013.
Federer, who had a bye in the first round, had played Ramos-Vinolas only once before, in the first round of Wimbledon in 2012, dropping just three games in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 dismissal of the Spaniard.
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“Before the match I thought I’m not going to win. But when I saw how I was playing, it was not the same as Wimbledon,” said the Spaniard. “Here, when I saw that we were very, very similar during the first set, I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I can do a good match.’”
And it was a very different story in the Shanghai second round on Tuesday as Federer struggled to impose himself.
“I was aware that he could give me a tough workout and even beat me,” said Federer. “I’m always cautious. I don’t underestimate or lack respect for anybody out there. These guys are all touring professionals; they know what they’re doing.”
Nadal getting to grips with ‘mental injury’
Rafael Nadal said he had shaken off his foot problem from the China Open final — and added that he was also recovering from the “mental injury” he blames for his struggles on court this year.
Speaking ahead of his Shanghai Masters match, seventh-ranked Nadal said he was finally getting to grips with the loss of confidence which unnerved him this year as he failed to win a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2004.
“This time I did not have control of my nerves or my emotion, and that’s like coming back from an injury, too,” he told reporters. “It’s not a physical injury, but it’s a mental injury. And this for me is another challenge.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.
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