It wasn’t quite the start Roger Federer was hoping for in his opener at the Shanghai Tennis Masters Cup. The four-time year-end champion fell earlier today to the rising Gilles Simon 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Red Group round-robin play.
I didn’t watch the match (it’s on tape delay here in the U.S. later), but Federer now has his work cut out for him if he wants to make the last four. It’s worth noting, though, that Federer lost his opener a year ago then roared back to win the title. But his round-robin competition is decidedly tougher this year with two guys who have already beaten in 2008 still to play, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick. I think he’ll beat Roddick, but I’m not sure of Murray.
For Simon, it was his second win over Raja this year and his 50th of the season, 14 of which remarkably have come after having gone down a set. And if he can beat Roddick (doable) or Murray (less doable) I think he’ll get into the semifinals.
In the second Red Group match, the battle of Andys went to Murray 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
On the ticket tomorrow will be Juan Martin Del Potro v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with the loser all but eliminated, and Nikolay Davydenko v Novak Djokovic with the winner all but into the last four.
And if you were wondering what would happen in case of an injury at a Masters Cup event, the alternate would fill in for the injured player. And no, said alternate this year is not James Blake who apparently turned down the invitation and the $50,000, as did just about everyone else in the Top 40! So who are these mysterious men? The 27th-ranked Radek Stepanek and the 37th-ranked Nicolas Kiefer. Wow.
I should also congratulate Venus Williams for winning her first career WTA year-end title after her three set win yesterday over Vera Zvonareva. And with that the WTA season ends.
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