Shanghai Flashback: Roger Federer edges Nishikori for Masters 1000 semi-final No. 63

World no. 2 and two-time Shanghai champion Roger Federer stayed on the title defense course three years ago thanks to a 6-4, 7-6 victory over Kei Nishikori in an hour and 51 minutes. Roger advanced to the 63rd Masters 1000 semi-final, raising his level in comparison to the previous two matches and beating the Japanese for the sixth time in eight encounters. It was the clash of the highest order, as the two rivals stayed neck and neck after an initial lead for Roger. The Japanese started to play better and remained in contention until the second set tie break, where he had his oppo. Federer served at 71% and hit ten aces, fending off four out of six break points and stealing Kei’s serve three times from eight chances (six in the match’s opening game alone) to seal the deal in straight sets.

In 2018, Roger Federer prevailed against Kei Nishikori to reach the semis.

Roger blasted 43 winners after hitting with great pace from both serve, forehand and backhand, while staying on 35 unforced errors. Kei had 27 winners and 24 unforced errors, but that was not enough to grab a set, squandering a 4-1 lead in the second set tie break to finish his journey in the quarters. Nishikori had the advantage in the more extended rallies, and Federer erased that deficit in the shortest points up to four strokes, winning 62 out of 102 to emerge as a winner. After a lucky net cord, Roger converted the sixth break chance at the start of the match and moved 4-1 ahead with another break in game five when Nishikori failed to control a deep return. The Japanese pulled one break back in the next game after a return winner and help from the net, building the momentum and staying in touch with Roger for the next 80 minutes.

There were no more break opportunities in the rest of the set, and Federer closed it with an ace after 47 minutes. Nishikori faced just one break point in the second set, and Roger converted it in the opening game after a costly double fault from his rival. Kei wasted a break chance in the next game and two more at 1-2 before he finally broke back when Roger sent an easy backhand wide in game six. Both players served well in the next five games, and Federer brought the 12th game home after two deuces to set up a tie break. Kei moved 4-1 ahead after a service winner, but it was not to be for him, with Roger reducing the gap to 4-3 with two service winners. Another forehand winner pulled a mini-break back for the Swiss, and he fired another to take the lead before closing the match with a volley winner at 6-4.

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