SHANGHAI – Sunday & Monday

Gold Group

Novak Djokovic lost all three matches in stright sets last year at Masters Cup but this time began the tournament much more better, defeating Masters Cup youngest and tallest player and debutant as well, Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-3. Djokovic was leading 5:2 in the first set but Del Potro managed to level up before lost first set. In the second set Del Potro took early break (2:1) but since then, Djokovic was a dominant player, breaking his opponent twice (having break points in three consecutive games). Del Potro hasn’t won yet a set against three best players in the world in 8 matches (the Argentinian is 0-3 against Nadal and Federer, 0-2 against Djokovic… 0-19 in sets against all of them). “I have the best fans here in China,” Djokovic said. “I get presents every day I get back to the hotel.”

Another Masters Cup debutant, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fell behind 0-40 in his first service game against Nikolay Davydenko. Tsonga saved triple break point and was winning service games comfortably till a tie-break. In the tie-break Davydenko was 3:2 up with serve but Tsonga won 4 out of the next 5 points what gave him double set point. The Russian saved both set points but at the third chance for the Frenchman, did an awful backhand volley error. Tsonga began 2nd set with break of serve but lost his service game immediately. At 5:4 (40-30) Davydenko hit backhand return on the line and the match went to a third set. Davydenko had raced to a 3:0 lead in the deciding set before Tsonga saved break point to win 4th game of the final set, endind the stream of dropping 5 games in a row. At 2:5 Tsonga saved match point with surprising dropshot. In the next two games Davydenko was two points away from victory but risky Tsonga leveled up to 5:5. The match was decided in an extremely quick tie-break. Davydenko opened the tie-break with an excellent volley and won the next 6 points thanks to Tsonga’s errors. It has been Tsonga’s first loss after 7 consecutive wins in three-setters. “It was a tough match,” Tsonga said. “He was just better than me at the end.”

(2)Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. (7)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 7-5 6-3
(4)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) d. (6)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-7(6) 6-4 7-6(0)

Red Group

Masters Cup debutant, Gilles Simon (replaced injured Nadal) defeated four-time Masters Cup champion Roger Federer, second time this year. The Frenchman won 4-6 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 7 minutes. Like in their previous and first meeting, earlier this year (Simon won 2-6 7-5 6-4 in Toronto) through a set and a half Federer was dictating the conditions of the match. After winning first set, broke Simon’s serve to lead 2:1 in the second but the Frenchman ribroke immediately and at 5:4 converted first setpoint after great rally with exchange of volleys. At 3:2 in the deciding set, Simon was 40-0 up, then Federer won 8 points in a row what gave him triple break point in the 7th game. The Swiss squandered all break points and it was crucial point in the match. Simon won Federer’s serve to “30” to lead 5:3 and finished the match with an ace on second match point. “I was sort of skeptical going into the match because the practice sessions haven’t been hard at all,” said Federer who committed 50 unforced errors.

Simon will next face another Masters Cup debutant, Britain’s Andy Murray, who beat Andy Roddick 6-4 1-6 6-1. The Scott broke Roddick’s serve in the fifth game and closed out the first set with a big serve. Next two sets had the same scenario – 5:0, 5:1, 6-1 after rather one-sided games. Murray finished the match with high backhand volley and said after the match: “Legs don’t quite have the snap in them that they did, you know, a few months ago. I’ll try and do my best to recover for the next match.” Murray now extends his series lead to 5-2 over Roddick. The American, known from big-serving, served only 3 aces this time (Murray 9).

(8)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. (1)Roger Federer (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-3
(3)Andy Murray (GBR) d. (5)Andy Roddick (USA) 6-4 1-6 6-1