The big guns take the court Wednesday at the Shanghai Tennis Masters. Top seed Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray continue their bids to finish the season as the No. 1 ranked player in second round play at the Masters 1000 stop.
Federer opens his 2012 fall campaign against Yen Hsun Lu. The Swiss hasn’t played a tournament since a quarterfinal loss at the US Open to Tomas Berdych – the fourth seeded Czech is also in action against Andreas Seppi.
“I had some time off,” Federer said. “I didn’t have a big buildup. It was more just trying to maintain my fitness level, playing some tennis while I was not at tournaments. Important is that the body is okay, that the mind is fresh and ready to travel, willing to do the sacrifices and all those things.”
Following a third Beijing title over the weekend, Djokovic, the 2012 points race leader, challenged the Federer-like Grigor Dimitrov.
“I’m trying to improve my knowledge about Chinese language, pronunciation, and also about writing and drawing the signs,” Djokovic said today. “I just got one under my belt. I’m not so sure that I even got that one right. So I have to work a little bit more. I guess if you said it’s five, it takes a long time.
“I actually tried to write my full name in Chinese, and it took me about five minutes. I think people don’t have that much time for me to sign them.”
If Djokovic wins the title and Federer fails to reach the quarter the Serb will overtake Roger in the 52-rankings.
Murray, who was stunned by Milos Raonic in Tokyo over the weekend, begins against Florian Mayer. Murray has won the Shanghai title the last two years.
“There’s a few tournaments between now and the end of the year I’d like to do well,” Murray said. “I always enjoy playing here. I’ll try to do as well as I can between now and the end of the year.
“If I do that, there’s a possibility to get to No. 1 next year. I think getting to No. 1 in the world, that’s more a reward for playing very good tennis throughout the whole season at pretty much every tournament you play.”
Earlier Tuesday, American No. 1 John Isner saved three match points to deny fellow big man Kevin Anderson in what else, three tiebreakers 7-6(3), 6-7(8), 7-6(7). Isner smashed 24 aces to Anderson’s 21 in a match that featured no breaks of serve.
“Really we both served well,” said Isner. “It’s one of the few times where, I don’t think I was out served, but he served right up there with me as far as aces, percentages, what not. So we both were serving exceptionally well. It came down to a few points here or there, and I was able to pull it out. It was looking bleak for a little bit. I served well enough to maybe win in two sets, but I had to win in three. I’m very, very excited to get through. I know I easily could have lost that one.”
Stanislas Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Gilles Simon were also winners on Tuesday. Australian teen Bernard Tomic troubles continued losing to Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-0. Tomic, who’s been criticized over his lack of effort before, admitted he didn’t give his best in the second set.
“Today I gave 100% in the first set,” the 43rd-ranked Tomic told the Age. ”I felt in the second set, my 100% wasn’t even close to where it should be. That’s where I think mentally … the mental skill is one of my biggest problems.”
Tomic, who turns 20 later this month, hasn’t beaten anyone in the Top 40 since a 5-set win over No. 13 Alexandr Dolgpolov at the Australian Open.
Also, Tomic’s countryman Lleyton Hewitt went down and Fernando Verdasco dented the London hopes to Juan Monaco.
STADIUM start 2:00 pm
A Seppi (ITA) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
G Dimitrov (BUL) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
Not Before 6:00 PM
 A Murray (GBR) vs F Mayer (GER)
Not Before 8:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE)
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