SHANGHAI ― The rain clouds cleared and the top eight seeds came out to play at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Wednesday, sweeping round two of the singles.
At the outdoor courts, seventh-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pleased the swarms of compatriot fans here as he breezed past Spaniard Pablo Andujar, 6-3, 6-2, while third-seeded David Ferrer of Spain picked up his 50th win of the season over Czech Lukas Rosol, 6-3, 6-4.
Juan Martin del Potro celebrates after defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber. (AP-Yonhap News)
But winning wasn’t easy, particularly with center court opener Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who endured a tough, 125-minute tit-for-tat that took him to a third-set tiebreak against German Philipp Kohlschreiber before finishing him off, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4).
The sixth seed later said that he’d been feeling ill with a fever the night before and could barely run in the second and third sets. He also pulled out of his doubles match with compatriot Carlos Berlocq planned for later in the day.
“Maybe it was the wind, rain, weather, humidity or the sun today, and I hope to recover for tomorrow,” said del Potro.
Defending champion and top-seeded Novak Djokovic made his tournament opener decisive, beating Marcel Granollers in 71 minutes as he converted five of his 10 break points. Even after sustaining a minor ankle injury after landing awkwardly at the start of the second set ― “It’s all good now,” the Serb assured afterward ― he went on to shut out Granollers in that set, 6-2, 6-0, in his third career win over the Spaniard.
Crowd favorite Roger Federer ― even his competitors Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez and Haas came out to watch ― struggled early in his first set against Italian Andreas Seppi, which he attributed partly to the quick conditions on center court.
“You have to be focused on your own serve. If you’re not careful, you can be broken rather quickly. ... (I) might have not hit enough serves yet, didn’t have the rhythm from the baseline yet. Just a tough combination when I got broken,” he said.
But after a ball change, a set and a break, the Swiss player was sufficiently warmed up to beat Seppi for the ninth time, 6-4, 6-3.
World No. 1 and second-seeded Nadal also had a rough start to his battle with No. 34 Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, as he struggled to stay one step ahead until mid-first set, falling victim to drop shots and smashes. But the Spaniard was aided by Dolgopolov’s errors to win out the set, and got into his groove in the second, winning 6-3, 6-2.
“In the beginning I couldn’t do nothing. He was playing amazing, hitting every ball very hard, playing winners from every place,” Nadal recalled. “Positive thing is that I resisted well at the beginning and I converted the second chance I had on the break point.”
By Elaine Ramirez, Korea Herald correspondent