Shanghai Flashback: Roger Federer tops Novak Djokovic to reach final

Shanghai 2014 could have turned into a disaster for both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The Spaniard lost to his countryman Feliciano Lopez in the second round. At the same time, the Swiss had to perform a miraculous escape to avoid the same fate after fending off five match points versus Leonardo Mayer! Carried by that boost, Federer won the next two matches in straight sets to advance into the semi-final, facing the two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in a battle for the final. It was their 36th encounter on the Tour and the 19th triumph for the Swiss, who scored a 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 36 minutes. Djokovic had earned five wins in their previous seven matches, including the Wimbledon final three months earlier. Still, he failed to produce that level of tennis in China and gave the trophy away after two years.

In Shanghai 2014, Roger Federer scored the 19th victory over Novak Djokovic.

Roger delivered more efficient numbers on both the first and second serve, fending off the only break chance and stealing Novak’s serve once in each set to move closer to the title. Djokovic saved eight out of ten break chances, giving everything to stay in touch but suffering those two breaks that propelled Federer through. Nothing could separate them in the shortest and more extended rallies, and the Swiss earned the victory in the mid-range exchanges from five to eight strokes. They had a similar number of winners and forced errors, and Djokovic lost the encounter in the unforced mistakes range, spraying too many and finishing his run in the semis. In the first game, the Serb held with a forehand winner and produced another fine hold with a backhand down the line winner at 1-1 to remain in front.

Roger closed the fourth game with a volley winner to level the score at 2-2 and earned a break in the next one with a solid attack. Novak made a break chance with a backhand crosscourt winner a few minutes later, denied by Roger’s forehand winner. In game eight, Federer fired four service winners and held at love at 5-4 to seal the opener after 38 minutes. Landing deep and aggressive strokes, the Swiss grabbed a break at the beginning of the second set with a forehand winner and held with a service winner to open a 2-0 gap. Another powerful serve pushed the Swiss 3-1 in front before wasting four break chances in the fifth game that could have sent him further ahead. Novak failed to return Roger’s serve in the sixth game to find himself 4-2 down before reaching five deuces on the return at 3-4 without creating break chances. Djokovic saved two match points on serve in the ninth game, but that was his last push, as he allowed Federer to seal the deal with a volley winner at 5-4 and set the clash against Gilles Simon.

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