Chalk one up for the young guns who Friday in Shanghai dispatched two of the titans of tennis. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev both toppled Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, respectively, in quarterfinal play at the Masters event in China.
Tsitsipas, who had split two meetings with Djokovic prior, stunned the Serb yet again with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over the 4-time time tournament champion.
“It’s the best comeback that I have ever had probably,” Tsitsipas said. “It was a very difficult victory mentally too. I wasn’t really thinking that long term that I have to win two sets. It just went step by step. It happened. I broke him, I won the set, I stayed there, broke him again, eventually I got the win at the end. I wasn’t really thinking too much in the future, and I think that helped a lot.”
Djokovic was in full control early in match, up 3-0 then hung on to take the set. The Greek finally broke through late in the second to level, then grabbed an early break in the third to collect one of his biggest career wins.
Djokovic had won his last seven matches, 14 straight sets and his last 22 in Asia.
“He played very well after his serve,” said Djokovic. “He was backing up his serve with really good and aggressive first shots in the rally. I didn’t make him defend enough. I just gave him enough time to really dictate the play from back of the court and he deserved to win.”
Tsitsipas now gets the red-hot Daniil Medvedev who ousted Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-6(4).
“He has a very different tennis from most of the players that I have been playing against this year,” said Tsitsipas. “He’s a very mental player, I would say. So, this win over Novak is a boost. It does help. It makes me feel good about my tennis, about my game. Tomorrow is going to be a new challenge for me. I hope I feel well. I hope it’s going to be a fresh, new Stefanos out on this court showing his best tennis and playing smart and making him play out of his comfort zone.”
Zverev scored one his biggest best victorious shocking Federer 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3 and claim his very first Top 10 win of the season.
“Obviously it was an important match. The head-to-head is obviously a great thing to have, but more importantly for me is it was a match to maybe turn my year around a little bit, and the Race to London is also very important,” Zverev said. “So I’m happy to be in the semifinals now and give myself the best chance to win maybe two more matches here.”
Federer saved three match points in the second with Zverev serving for it at 6-5, 40-0 and two in the breaker, but the Swiss couldn’t capitalize int he third.
“I told him at the net that he showed great character, that he was strong… I thought he didn’t show any frustrations or too much negativity,” Federer said. “I didn’t see him very often being extremely frustrated except the one time when he hit three let cords in a row, the last game I think it was.
“That was impressive, because he has tendencies to get a bit down on himself. Especially this season, he hasn’t been playing maybe so well, so that impressed me the most. If I can get one per cent of that, I’m happy, too.”
Zverev will now face US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini who upset Dominic Thiem 7-6(8), 6-4.
With these new faces, there will be a new Shanghai champion and for the first time in 20 years at a Masters event (1999 Hamburg), all four semifinalists are under 24.
“They’re knocking on the door big time,” said Federer. “It’s exciting. They’re great. It’s really open now, I think, for the finish of this tournament.”
SATURDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
Center Court 1 Starts At 1:30 Pm
SF 6 Nicolas Mahut-Edouard Roger-Vasselin v 2 Lukasz Kubot-Marcelo Melo
Not Before 4:30 Pm
SF 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas v 3 Daniil Medvedev
Not Before 8:00 Pm
SF 11 Matteo Berrettini v 5 Alexander Zverev
Show Court 3 Starts At 2:30 Pm
SF 8 Mate Pavic-Bruno Soares v Jamie Murray-Neal Skupski
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