Fed beats Nadal, titles for Sharapova, Pavy and Strycova!

Roger Federer has landed his second Shanghai Rolex Masters title after beating Rafa Nadal 6/4 6/3 in Sunday’s showpiece. It now extends his winning streak over the Spaniard to five matches and it is 4-0 in 2017. Going back to back weeks probably made this a tougher task for Nadal, as Federer came in playing his first event since the U.S Open (fine-tuning his game at the Laver Cup exhibition in-between). The Fed-Express came out firing from the first game, gaining the break with the aggressive shot-making we have become accustomed too of both wings, then later serving out the first set impressively to love. He broke again in the fifth game of the second set, all manufactured by stepping inside the baseline and then on break point patiently waiting for the Nadal error. The victory was complete when Rafa netted a forehand on match point when serving to stay in the match. Highly impressive from Federer! There were a few scares along the way, Diego Schwartzman took him close in his opener and once again Juan Martin Del Potro gave him a right match in their semi-final. The Argentine had already impressed in beating third seed Sascha Zverev in the third round! In fairness to Nadal, he had looked in imperious form most of the week, especially in the thumpings of Jared Donaldson and Fabio Fognini (one of his very few nemesis). Grigor Dimitrov, as he did in Beijing took him all the way, once again leaving it all out there but coming up just slightly short again in the decider in their quarter-final! It was here and against Marin Cilic in the semi, where he was extended to two tight sets that probably softened him up for Federer!

Nick Kyrgios has found himself in a little bit of trouble again after pulling out of his opener against Steve Johnson, having lost the first set. The Ozzy wasn’t able to back up that he had a stomach bug as he failed to get it signed off in is medical after. A £7, 500 fine for his efforts!

Maria Sharapova won her first title since May 2015, when she won the Italian Open in Rome. Her task in Tianjin was made much easier as her first round opponent Caroline Garcia withdrew with a right thigh injury pre-tournament. No surprises really as she has qualified for the End Of Year Tour and three weeks on the bounce was asking a lot of anyone, having won the previous two. Second seed Petra Kvitova lost in the first round to Lin Zhu, this paved the way for Sharapova to complete a relatively routine victory as she beat what was put in front of her, including a potentially nasty semi-final against Shuai Peng! She beat 19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka in the final, the Belarussian had gone well in Tashkent a few weeks ago and motored her way through to the final here without dropping a set! In the semi, she beat Sara Errani (the former world number 5 was down to as low as 281 going into the week and still faces a potential ban, having already served two months for testing positive for Letrozole). The Italian found some form again after getting through qualies and beat Beatriz Haddad-Maia! Sabalenka caused Sharapova plenty of problems in the final but it was the Russian who prevailed 7/5 7/6(8).

In Hong Kong, the top four seeds had been shown the exit door by the quarter-finals.  Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki withdrew prior to their second-round matches with a right leg and left elbow injury respectively. Venus Williams lost to Naomi Osaka and Aggie Radwanska lost out to Sam Stosur! This opened up the way for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to take advantage and win her third title of the season, she beat Daria Gavrilova in a final lasting over 3  hours, in a third set breaker! Inclement weather prevented the final finishing before 1 am, local time! She definitely seems to be maturing the Russian, the forehand getting the job done in the end and she will look to progress even further in 2018!

The top two seeds faced off in the final of Linz, as Barbora Strycova won her first title in over 6 years! The second seed beat Magdalena Ryabrikova 6/4 6/1 in the final! It was all relatively plain sailing for Strycova, qualifier Jana Fett took the first set against her in their second-round encounter, but that was the only set she dropped all week. In fairness, Fett is playing some great tennis right now too! Rybarikova returned to the form she was showing on the grass a few months back but Strycova served too well on Sunday! Other players who performed well here were Viktorija Golubic and Mihaela Buzarnescu, both making the semis. Buzarnescu made it through qualies before losing to the eventual champion and Golubic made her first main tour semi of the season, having been runner-up in Linz last year!

Andy Del Potro



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