FedererWhile the Rolex Masters tennis tournament continues, many top stars are trying hard in their matches in Shanghai to secure prestigious spots in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals to be staged at the O2 arena in London for a fifth straight year. Like every year, only the best eight singles players and best eight doubles teams of the season qualify for the famed World Tour Finals. While Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer entered the quarterfinals with some hiccups, Rafael Nadal lost to Feliciano Lopez and added another defeat to his 2014 tennis calendar. Regardless, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have already secured the berths for the highly anticipated London event that begins on November 9, 2014. Five more singles’ spots will become known by the time the BNP Paribas ATP1000 tournament is completed at Paris in month end.

Since his wrist injury after Wimbledon, Nadal played for the first time at an ATP event. Despite currently suffering from appendicitis, Nadal was seen to move well around the court against Lopez. But the Spaniard lost in the end 3-6, 6-7 to highlight a lack of match rhythm. The determined Nadal has announced his participation in the last ATP1000 Masters tournament in Paris before Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. He will go for the appendicitis surgery in December and the recovery will dictate the beginning of his 2015. World No.1 Novak Djokovic didn’t exactly have a cake-walk as he was stretched to three sets by Mikhail Kukushkin in a match that lasted over 2 hours. In the end, however, the two-time Shanghai Masters champion prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Djokovic’s victory over the 26-year old Kazakh was the 27th time that the Serb has won consecutively in China. Though Djokovic had an easy first set, he allowed Kukushkin to bounce back in the second set by failing to win points on his first serve on many occasions. Kukushkin opened a 3-0 lead and, despite a late surge by the Serb, pocketed the second set 6-4. But the defending champion played a much better third set, where 81% of his first serve earned him winning points. Djokovic’s quarterfinal opponent will be David Ferrer, who defeated Andy Murray 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in his third round match. The Ferrer-Murray match was a fight for the race to London. By beating the Scot, Ferrer moved ahead of him in the Emirates ATP Race and broke the two-match losing streak against the Scotsman in their 13th meeting, though Murray still leads 7-6. At 3715 points, Ferrer is now 35 points behind the Canadian Milos Raonic in the ongoing countdown for the prestigious finale in London. But Murray may still be in the race with participation in the Swiss Indoors at Basel and Valencia Open 500 to be preceded by the Paris 1000 Masters. If he does well in these tournaments, he could make it to the Barclays World Tour Finals for the seventh straight year.

Roger Federer reached the quarterfinals on Thursday by easily beating Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-2 but earlier on Wednesday, Federer had a genuine scare against the Argentinian Leonardo Mayer in his second round match. In a contest lasting for 2 hours and 42 minutes, Mayer held 5 match points against the Swiss in the third set. The Argentinian, however, couldn’t convert any as Federer escaped to a lucky 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 victory. Even in the first set, Mayer established a 3-1, 40/15 lead but the Swiss star managed to drag himself out of trouble. Later, Federer saved one set point as Mayer served at 5-4 but the Swiss legend converted his fifth break point to win the game and the one-hour long first set.

Earlier, Federer had received a rousing welcome from fans on his arrival in China, where he could win his maiden title this year. But with Djokovic playing superbly until now, the Swiss will need to produce something extra against him if they meet each other. In other matches on Thursday, Tomas Berdych beat Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4; Julien Benneteau beat Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4; Gilles Simon beat Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-3; Mikhail Youzhny beat Juan Monaco 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 and Feliciano Lopez beat John Isner 6-3, 6-4.