ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererShanghai Masters

Classy Federer Powers Past Nishikori to Make Shanghai Semis

The best performance of Roger’s 2018 Shanghai Masters so far as he saw off Kei Nishikori  6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and fifty-two minutes to reach the semi-finals.

Like his previous two outings at the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena this week the Swiss started in aggressive style, making mincemeat of Nishikori’s second serve. However rather than another tough three-setter, this time around he withstood a valiant fightback from the Japanese, recovering from 1-4 down in the second set tie-break to book his spot in the semi-finals.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Nishikori Shanghai 2018

Roger won the toss, elected to receive and soon had Nishikori under pressure with two break points. Nishikori saved both to make deuce but the game was far from over and Roger finally got the breakthrough on his 6th break point to take a 1-0 lead.

The break was consolidated for 2-0 and in game five Roger moved up a double break for 4-1 with more dominant baseline hitting. That looked to be set done but Nishikori was able to recover one break with a break back to love. A deuce game in the eighth game gave him a sniff at restoring parity but Roger held and went onto take the set 6-4.

Into set two and in very similar style to yesterday’s encounter against Bautista Agut, Roger went up an immediate break for 1-0 but again couldn’t keep hold of it, dropping serve in game six as Nishikori rallied to level at 3-3. Buoyed by the break Nishikori held his next three service games, recovering from 0-30 in game eleven to hold for 6-5. Roger then had to hold to force a tie-break, coming up with the goods at 15-30 and two deuces to hold.

Nishikori had only lost two tie-breaks this season and he got off to a dream start in this one moving into a 4-1 lead with some impressive serving and baseline hitting. Back to back aces then steadied the ship for Federer for 3-4 and from there he was able to gain back control, rifling a 151 km/h forehand to get the mini-break back and moving up his own mini-break after a Nishikori ball clipped the tape. Two first serves then got the job done.

Match Stats

Roger Federer Kei Nishikori
Aces 10 0
Double Faults 1 3
1st Serve 71% (60/84) 64% (53/83)
1st Serve Points Won 65% (39/60) 62% (33/53)
2nd Serve Points Won 54% (13/24) 50% (15/30)
Break Points Saved 67% (4/6) 63% (5/8)
Service Games Played 11 11
1st Serve Return Points Won 38% (20/53) 35% (21/60)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 50% (15/30) 46% (11/24)
Break Points Converted 38% (3/8) 33% (2/6)
Return Games Played 11 11
Winners 43 27
Unforced Errors 35 24
Net Points Won 68% (21/31) 71% (17/24)
Service Points Won 62% (52/84) 58% (48/83)
Return Points Won 42% (35/83) 38% (32/84)
Total Points Won 52% (87/167) 48% (80/167)

Shot of the Match

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Shanghai Quarter Final 2018

Yeah it was extremely tough, I thought Kei struck the ball nicely. Maybe I got a bit, not lucky, but maybe there were some important moments where he misfired a little bit and I came up with some good stuff. So overall I was a bit better on the big points today and those are the matches you want to dig out sometimes.

A great win from Roger here and the tennis on offer from both he and Nishikori was awesome to watch. Great ball striking,  both taking it early and moving very well made it a very fun match.

Roger started brilliantly, ripping it from the off and going after Nishikori’s second serve with disdain to get the early break and he was well on top in set one.

However, once Nishikori was able to get some more rhythm and hit a few more balls he made it into a real tough encounter, spreading the court beautifully from the baseline and he made some moves into the net when he had the chance which proved profitable. It looked like he’d be able to take it three sets after really playing well at the end of set two and the start of the breaker but Roger kept his own level high and those back to back aces in the breaker were crucial to put the pressure straight back on Nishikori’s serve.

So super fun match and Fedikori is a great matchup for the neutrals. Styles make fights and this is one of the better Fed matches I’ve watched of late so I’m looking forward to re-watching the key points on the highlights latest.

Predictions vs. Coric

I think he’s played a wonderful tournament so far. He beat me in the Halle finals and I beat him in the Indian Wells semi, so it’s going to be extremely close. I expect it to be tough.

Next up is Borna Coric who beat Australia’s Matthew Ebden in straight sets. Coric has put together a few decent tournaments this year winning Halle and now making his second Masters 1000 semi-finals of the season here in Shanghai.

Coric is a bit of a poor man’s Djokovic with his game style which is no bad thing, he makes a lot of balls and he’s also improved his serve a lot this year as we saw in the Halle final so he should be another test come tomorrow. On the whole, Coric has fairly inconsistent results and Stan should have really taken care of him in the first round but he’s worked his way into the tournament and is now in the last four. If Fed plays like today and feels good in the legs I like his chances as he’ll be able to play all on his terms.

What are your predictions against Borna Identity Coric? Did you enjoy the Nishikori match? Let me know in the comments 🙂


Editor of Perfect Tennis and a big fan of Roger Federer, I've spent countless hours watching and analysing his matches. Alongside playing the sport, I also enjoy writing about the tour, rackets, strings, and the technicalities of the game. Whether it's breaking down the latest tournament results or discussing the latest gear innovations, I'm always eager to share my insights with fellow tennis enthusiasts.

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    1. Well… some of the shots were kind of ‘youngerer’ , but then the thinking on his feet & not getting rattled was ‘maturerer’. Really neat combination actually. A treat to see them both playing well at the same time, as you said.

      Now to see if he can bring this old/new combo to bear in what’s essentially a rematch of one of his most disappointing losses this year (not the most disappointing though; I reserve that for the Indian wells final) . Allez Rodge!

      1. Well his running speed with quick reacting feet – might share the youngerer option, surely? And instinctive quick decisions from the experience of many years’ maturing performance?

      2. Yes, exactly… it was just so evident in this match, the combination. It reminds me a bit of how, years & years ago, I noticed I could actually watch Fed construct a point, you could watch him do it in real time. Here, you can actually see this crazy & wonderful combination of traits from his younger days – like, as you mention, the ‘quick reacting feet’ that you might reasonably expect him to not have access to anymore – he’s got to work so hard to still be able to do that – with traits that can only come with experience and maturity, but that you also have to work hard at to implement successfully.

      3. Yes, and all that was there this time. But his talent also. I’m not sure how hard actually he works – of course somewhat, and maybe a lot also, but it’s also necessary to have fun time with family, sponsors, fans, media etc. Maybe he mostly does what he likes, and fortunately training belongs to such…?

      4. It’s true that people like Seve & Godsick, in their occasional interviews, have said that he loves everything, even the practice. I do think his joy on the court is an important factor in – everything, but I also think he works incredibly hard – he himself said in a recent (this year I think) press conference something like he feels sometimes people don’t realize how hard he has to work to make it look easy.

      5. Cincy gets a pass in the most disappointing ? I hope we get an Indian Wells Borna and Fed match ! Youngerer and maturer so true Thinker !

  1. This was a great match, so entertaining. I usually enjoy watching Kei when he is playing well, and the 2nd set in particular provided some wonderful tennis. Am still a bit surprised, and very relieved, that Fed managed to win the TB.

    1. Me too. And I generally enjoy watching Kei: I’m currently going through the 2016 JP vs. GB Davis Cup match against Murray and really appreciating the excellent match. Need to delete it from the HD before the WTF starts, though.

  2. Yeah this was impressive. Easily the highest level I’ve seen from Federer in quite a while. Perhaps even in terms of his level up there with his best for the year. Nishikori is really good and I think he too showed why he’s highly regarded here. I hope to see Fed back this up against Coric now but it was just nice to see this level again which simply hasn’t been here for a while.

    1. Ryan, Agree with you there totally! This level is what fed showed us last year, maby a bit more last year but very close.

  3. Agree with Jonathan in all his writ today, not least this about a treat for the neutral to watch such a match. Even as a hardcore RF-fan it was difficult not to enjoy some of Kei’s amazing shots, his grace and fighting spirit. If he carries on like that, he might be my number 2, for creating brilliant and entertaining tennis. But of course it was a nail biter too, esp. at the end of set 2. To perform vs such a player brought up Roger’s mastershipping god-mode, and that’s something to be grateful about. Such is why we watch tennis!

  4. Yes, it was a “super fun match” with quite a few heart attacks and facepalms but wow the guy knows how to play tennis, doesn’t he! BHs were as good as 2017’s. Kei certainly contributed his part for this great match. A very cool highlight video, thanks Jonathan.

    1. Wanda, I agree!! It was the firts math since last year that RF backhand was as good as the 2017 version and that is a good thing. I really believe that it was his backhand who won him all the titles last year. This year he has been in almost just as many finals but he lose them instead and thebackhand is one answer, it hasnt been a weapon like it was last year. The opponent couldnt go to the forhand last year but the backhand was just as good and therefore they didnt stand a chance. I would like to see how Novak holds up if federer can keep this up.

  5. About vs Coric: I didn’t watch the Halle final, so I don’t know his weapons vs Fed. But I have the feeling that Rogde wasn’t at his best then, for some or other reason. But his confident performance at the LC, and no less in this match lets me think he’ll prevail tomorrow.

  6. That was a quick response Jonathan!
    Yes great match.When Fed dropped his serve at the beginning of the second set I had this awful feeling of deja vu and thought there was another tough three setter incoming.Great breaker,the two serves and the two forehands were outstanding under pressure.It underlines why one player has 20 slams and the other 0.However Nishikori is a great player
    and played really well in the second set.Feds backhand now seems more of a weapon than the forehand!
    As for Coric I think Fed will have him.Feds level is rising with each match,perhaps the struggles in the first two matches were partly rust.Also perhaps knowing that he doesn’t have the prospect of a gruelling match with the Possum,may have put a spring in his step.Who knows,his movement out there is incredible.?

  7. Great fun match and I’m glad that Roger played the big points better and with his better serve came out on top. Kei played extremely well and could have beaten most top players today. Roger served, returned, volleyed and moved very well and some of his forehands and backhands were just a treat to watch. I hope he can keep up this level of play and put Borna Identity 🙂 in his place. Playing poor man’s Djokovic would be good practice before the final though Novak does have to beat a better Sasha than prior years to get there. 2 more good matches to put the darn 99 behind him. One at a time. Allez Roger!!

    1. For Borna identity read boring?Rather sad no one picked up on my Matrix jokes with Mr Anderson,but perhaps they were too silly and beneath contempt ?
      Yes I am not counting out Sascha as so many commentators seem to be.
      We shall see.

  8. Today Federers backhand is like last year, he really hit it hard and good. I havent seen that in the hole season to be honest but this was nice. Hope he can keep it up.

  9. Such a good match to watch. That first set was the best the best fed has played for months I think, seemed to be striking it cleanly all match too. Forehand was a lot better but still seems to me that he is following through over his head more than normal which I’m not massively keen on (may just be me though). Favourite thing from this week has been how he’s served out sets and matches, been hiccups along the way but as soon as he’s in the winning position then there hasn’t been any dramas

  10. Jonathan this was a good match for you to write about, Federer finally remembering who he is!
    Great entertainment so good from both, the determination from Roger in the tie break shades
    of the past. Hope he can wipe the slate clean tomorrow so C’mon Roger we know Coric is
    tenatious so be lucky as well as good x

  11. I think this match was very interesting.Fed used his backhand instead of rushing the net as in the previous two matches.
    What I find so extrodinary about Fed is that he is still evolving his game,still altering his play depending on surfaces
    And conditions.Compare this with his main rivals,same old,same old.Stick to the percentages wait for the opponent
    to make mistakes etc etc.

  12. Love this match up. Always produces gun shot making easy on the eye tennis.
    Rog worked hard today, altho you cld see the legs were a tad weary ( which he slapped at a couple of times in frustration)

    Last 6 points were vintage.

    Intrigued as to his 1st serve % versus his actually points won. Maybe not placing the serve as well as usual? Certainly fewer free pints on serve.
    Anyway all good and I expect him to avenge that Halle loss.
    I also expect Sascha to beat Novak

      1. I’ll agree to anything if Fed wins lol & Novak is prevented from taking Fed’s number two spot for a little longer! The pundits extolling Novak’s return to form again and inevitable number 1 are nauseating! Novak winning it all now but losing at Laver Cup is annoying in retrospect just makes it look like he didn’t put in as much for an exho, vaguely undermining team Europe & Fed’s show!
        Chum Jetze to the young German and the Swiss German !
        Sascha do this for your daddies, the guy in the stands & Fed !

  13. Roger ‘s backhand is borna-gain !
    Yesterday, his velocity was insane
    His return of serve, all the same.
    B R A V O ! and GO GO GO for another final

  14. Not as a viewer’s point of view, but why he doesn’t get a day match? Surely Novak/Sascha deserves a night match, too? Isn’t night cold and the ball becomes heavy? Fed mentioned something like that about the ball? Hope today’s match doesn’t exhaust him too much, allez!

    1. Quite. Not only that, but he’s obliged to play 3.5 hours later than Djokovic. It’s bound to be a much tougher match than Novak’s (could hardly be anything else, could it), and then there’s so much less recovery time before the final – for whoever gets through. I hope the spectators have brought a good book with them to read during the long break. I know I’ve said this before, but these day/evening sessions can be so unfair on the players.

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