SHANGHAI – France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga scored a 7-6 (7-5), 6-0 victory over Kei Nishikori in the third round at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Thursday.
It was a disappointing end to a match that started out with much promise for Nishikori.
Nishikori, the 12th seed, broke Tsonga’s serve in the second game of the opening set and went on to take a 4-2 lead.
Nishikori came out blasting his two-hand backhand and appeared to really have the momentum.
Tsonga, seeded seventh, held serve to make it 4-3, then broke Nishikori in the eighth game to level at 4-4.
The pair stayed on serve until the tiebreaker, where Nishikori jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Just when it looked like the set was nearly in Nishikori’s hands, Tsonga’s booming serve and powerful ground strokes quickly turned it around and he claimed the set.
“It was a tight first set. He took chances and was aggressive,” said Nishikori. “He was giving me a lot of pressure on my service games.”
Nishikori made several unforced errors late in the first set that didn’t help matters.
Nishikori took a medical timeout following the set, and a trainer came out and worked on his left side and back for several minutes.
“My back, side and leg started to tighten up,” Nishikori stated. “Everything felt that way.”
The outcome was determined shortly thereafter, as Tsonga quickly broke Nishikori in the first and third games of the second set to go up 3-0 and never looked back.
“He didn’t have any pressure in the second set. He was serving so well,” added Nishikori.
“I played a solid first set,” commented Tsonga. “It was not easy because I was trailing him.”
Tsonga pointed out that the match didn’t start as he would have liked.
“He played very well in the beginning. But I broke back and won the set,” Tsonga noted. “It can be difficult after you lose a first set that goes 1 hour, 10 minutes.”
When asked if he thought the opening set was slipping away when he trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker, Tsonga said he tried to remain positive.
“In tennis you always need to believe,” he said. “Even down 3-0 I knew it was on my serve, so I didn’t worry.”
The contest marked the third career meeting between Nishikori and Tsonga. Nishikori had beaten the Frenchman in both of their previous matchups, including here in the second round in 2011.
Nishikori beat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 in a second-round match on Wednesday to earn the date with Tsonga.
The win moves Tsonga into the quarterfinals on Friday. He will be joined there by sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, who won in a walkover against Germany’s Tommy Haas, who could not play due to a back injury.
In other third-round action, top seed Novak Djokovic cruised past unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3.
Fifth seed Roger Federer saw his tough year continue with a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 loss to France’s Gael Monfils.
Federer just didn’t have it on this day, as he committed a high number of unforced errors and struggled just to force a third set.
It was only the second time Federer had lost to Monfils in eight career meetings.
Spain’s David Ferrer, the third seed, was bundled out by German’s Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-3.
Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych, seeded fourth, fell to Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
Second seed Rafael Nadal will take on Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq later Thursday.
CAS eyes quick verdicts
Doping appeals by tennis players Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki at the Court of Arbitration for Sport should be decided within a month.
After Troicki’s case was heard Wednesday, CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said that Cilic’s appeal against a nine-month ban is scheduled to be heard in London next Wednesday.
In a counter appeal, the International Tennis Federation has challenged the Cilic verdict of its own independent tribunal, Reeb said.