After upsetting Roger Federer yesterday, unseeded Gael Monfils (Bio) was aiming to take another big scalp when he met Novak Djokovic (Bio) in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters 2013, thus trying to improve the 1-8 head-to-head record against the top seed. The Frenchman broke twice in the beginning of the opener, but failed to confirm any of the breaks. The set then proceeded on serve until the eleventh game when Nole rescued a break point after a long exchange of backhands and the tie-break would follow. The Serb champion had won all six previous breakers against Monfils, yet the latter was invincible in this one as he capitalized on the single mini-break to close out the set. Novak – who conceded a high number of unforced errors (16-8) – was the more diverse of the players in that part of the match as he often tried his luck by approaching the net (he was successful nine out of eleven times), whilst his rival preferred to stay behind the baseline and rely on strong serves.
The Serb was quick to respond in the set number two where he broke in the opening game and doubled the lead by 5-2. At that point Monfils, who could hardly move due to injury, opted for a medical time-out. He was able to continue the match after receiving a treatment, but could not stop Nole from serving out the set. There were no upsets in the decider until the seventh game when the Frenchman committed his first double fault to gift Djokovic a break point which the latter converted. Monfils defended the first match point on his serve, but was helpless in the follow-up game which the Serb held to love after hitting a forehand winner – he completed the comeback by winning 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 after almost two and a half hours of play on hard court in Shanghai. Both players ended the battle with 34 unforced errors in their statistics, whilst Nole struck 31 winners to the Frenchman’s 25.
“It was a tough match today, a tough battle,” said Monfils. “I’m still happy. I haven’t practiced much before here. To come here [and play] strong was good. He is one of the best players in the world, and I have no shame today… I’m already looking forward for 2014.”
Djokovic’s semi-final adversary Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Bio), seed number seven, had a much easier day at the office as it took him slightly more than an hour to eliminate Florian Mayer (Bio). The unseeded German came to the quarter-finals on the heels of a victory over David Ferrer, but failed to impose himself against the higher ranked Frenchman who fended off all four break points he was facing and stole his opponent’s serve three times – he secured his semi-final spot with a smooth 6-2, 6-3 triumph.
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