The first quarterfinal between Thomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in some sense an attempt to reply on a question “Who is the real No. 5”. The simplistic answer is: Berdych, because he won 6-3 7-6. Both players were highly motivated and created very good match, separated them just Tsonga’s fluctuating concentration. He suffered decrease of it in the 1st set at 3:4 when he played an awful game on serve losing quickly four straight points; the situation repeated itself in a different dimension when he committed a double fault at 4-all in the 2nd set tie-break. “I think it was really solid game and solid performance from beginning until the end,” said Berdych. “I think the biggest difference between me and Jo was I was able to take the small chances during the first and especially the second set.” The semifinal line-up is overcrowded by top four seeds: Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic joined Berdych, everyone got two required sets on Friday with a relative ease. A bit more complicated match experienced Murray. At the beginning of the 3rd set against Radek Stepanek he said to himself/his box: “Every shot is shanking. I’m tired, sick, and playing very bad”. Despite complaining he managed to rebuff the Czech player by a 4-6 6-2 6-3 margin.
The fourth edition of the Shanghai Rolex Masters was deprived of three Top 10 players (Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro). The last four weeks of the regular season, it’s a period of the year when there’s a lot of talk about the ranking: who will finish the season as No. 1?, who will play in the Season Ending-Championships in London? These are the basic questions at the beginning of October. On the assumption Nadal won’t play this season anymore, three players are certain, four others (more than 3,000 points) have almost guaranteed their appearance in London, those players (between 2,720 & 2,115 points) who have reasonable chances to get the eighth spot, disappointed this week – neither of them won at least two matches (Janko Tipsarevic, Nicolas Almagro, Juan Monaco, Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic & John Isner). Raonic was close to get a third match point-down victory within a week, despite saving a match point in the 2nd set against Marcos Baghdatis, he lost an all-tie-break match anyway. Thanks to the setback of the above mentioned guys, Marin Cilic (currently 15th in the Race) is mixed up with them as a London contender after reaching quarterfinals. He now meets Roger Federer, who secured himself maintaining No. 1 next Monday after battling past his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6 7-6 6-0 under two hours. As I wrote two months ago when they met in Cincinnati, Wawrinka even playing very well, loses to the best guys because of details. Today decided a point at 3-all in the tie-break. Wawrinka after a good serve was in a position to deliver a highly percentage shot in empty court towards Federer’s backhand side, he chose other solution though, contre pie, but Federer waited for that, and passed beautifully his four years younger friend. In the deciding set Wawrinka didn’t give a hoot and lost it in less than 20 minutes winning just 5 points (Federer 24). In the 2nd set Wawrinka squandered a mini-match point at 4-all. Two-time defending champion Andy Murray, just like a year before, received a walkover in the second round (last year from Tursunov, this year from F.Mayer). European veterans seem to be in very good physical shape, 34-year-olds Tommy Haas  and Radek Stepanek  moved through three rounds, each of them defeating two London aspirants. Federer reflecting on being number one 300th week: “Sometimes you’re just happy playing. Some people, some media unfortunately don’t understand that it’s okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story, and if it’s not obviously what is the point. Maybe you have to go back and think, ‘Why have I started playing tennis?’ Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that ever.” Isner played four tie-breaks in two matches, winning three of them, which makes him # the first man in the Open era to win at least 40 tie-breaks within a season (after Shanghai his record is 41/15, thus 73% – second best this year). It’s interesting that he beat Kevin Anderson for the second time in career wasting a match point in the 2nd set, previously it happened in Atlanta two years ago. For Anderson it’s first main-level defeat after squandering a match point (to be precise he had three in the deciding tie-break).
# The most tie-break wins within a season:
41/15 John Isner (2012)… continues 38/21 Michael Stich (1993) 37/14 Andy Roddick (2004) & Roger Federer (2006) 37/30 Ivo Karlovic (2007) * 36/21 Andy Roddick (2003) 35/19 Pete Sampras (1992)
* Karlovic that season was 45/37 adding Challengers and qualifying rounds