The semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on Saturday will be the most important match of the entire tournament as it will feature two of world’s greatest tennis players. The only regret of the fans worldwide would be why Roger Federer was seeded third behind Rafael Nadal? Federer is already No.2 in ATP rankings and Nadal has been out of action for a while. The two places could have easily been switched. Be that as it may, the semifinal tonight between the two living tennis legends is going to be a special occasion and sure to attract world-wide viewership. For those sitting around the tennis court in Shanghai, it would be like watching the final a day too early. But one cannot brush aside the feats of Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez, both of whom played marvelous tennis to earn the rights of playing the other semifinal tonight and fight for a place in the final.
It will be the 36th time in their career that Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet each other across the net on a tennis court. The equation thus far is a close 18-17 in favor of Federer. Between the two of them, the Serb and the Swiss have won 24 Grand Slam singles titles and if one were to add up their combined titles on the ATP World Tour, that figure would come to an unbelievably amazing 126 and counting! Despite their famous rivalry, both players have a very healthy respect for one another, in stark contrast to the days of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, who looked nothing less than sworn enemies whenever they played one another. Djokovic said yesterday that playing Federer was always a big challenge for him and he didn’t see a clear favorite. Adding further, the Serb explained that it was always a thrilling game with Federer and each of them would need to produce their best forms. Federer concurred with Djokovic, saying that he had played Djokovic so many times that now there were no secrets between them about their games. Federer also said that both of them were accustomed to the playing conditions in Shanghai and it would be a matter of focusing on our games and do our best. In Shanghai, Federer had faced Djokovic only once in 2010 semifinal, when he beat the Serb but lost to Andy Murray in the final. As for Djokovic, he is currently on a roll with 29 straight victories on Chinese soil with titles in Shanghai Rolex Masters in 2012 and 2013.
In the quarterfinal against Ferrer yesterday, Djokovic continued his magnificent form in overcoming the Spaniard 6-4, 6-2. There was only one game in the match, when Djokovic felt the heat of Ferrer’s game. It was late in the first set on Djokovic’s own service game but once that was overcome; the Serb faced no other problems. Federer, who has been playing mostly late-night games all through the tournament, had a tough first set against Frenchman Julien Benneteau that had to be decided on tie-break. But afterwards, it became easy for Federer, who wrapped up the match 7-6, 6-0.
But Benneteau’s compatriot, Gilles Simon played remarkably against Czech Republic’s 6th seed Tomas Berdych. The Czech was a finalist in last week’s China Open but he found it too tough to deal with Simon. The short-statured Simon took the first set on tie-break but Berdych came right back in the second to win at 6-4. In third set, Simon was superb in not allowing Berdych any foothold as he finished the match 7-6, 4-6, 6-0. In the other quarterfinal, Spain’s 33-year old Feliciano Lopez also took three sets in defeating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a semifinal clash with Gilles Simon for a place in Sunday’s final.