SHANGHAI, China – Roger Federer survived his match against friend and fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Thursday to guarantee himself the No.1 ranking for a 300th week.
Federer struggled in the beginning of the match hitting only two winners in losing the first set.
He spoke to media about how he got himself out of trouble: “Look, just keep on trying. You know, I had my chances in the second set. I was up a break. Then I think I was down breakpoint at one point at the end of the second set. Obviously that was like a match point. So obviously I knew I had a chance going into the breaker.
“I thought we both played a pretty good breaker. Could have gone either way. Consider myself a little lucky. I never stopped believing, pushed till the end, then got off to a good start in the third set. Basically that was it.
It was a tough match. He was the better player for basically two sets. It’s great finding a way out that way, that’s for sure.”
Federer on reaching his 300th week at No. 1: “It’s obviously an amazing number and I never thought of anything like this when I was a little kid. I just thought one day my dream would come true to play on the tour. So here I am at 300 weeks, and it’s probably one of my biggest accomplishments and something I’m very proud of. No doubt about it.”
Does Federer remember his first week at No. 1 –February 2, 2004?
“Yeah, I do remember it very vividly actually,” Federer said. “It’s not one of those moments that happens and then you forget. It took me a lot of great performances to get there.
“I had an opportunity I think in the match against Roddick in Montréal. Lost 7‑6 in the semis there against him. It took me to win Wimbledon, the World Tour Finals, then basically get to the finals of the Australian Open. After beating Ferrero in the semis, I knew I clinched it, but obviously I wanted to finish the tournament on a high note winning the Australian Open as well.
That’s what I was able to do then. But I remember after the semis how happy I was becoming world No. 1. It was for me back then sort of the ultimate accomplishment next to winning Wimbledon. That all happened in a span of sort of nine months, which was so intense, huge relief in some ways, but a big satisfaction.
“Yeah, here I am eight years later, even more. It’s pretty special. Obviously I lost the world No. 1 ranking a few times, but I also stayed a long time once I got there. I always felt tennis was easier for me playing as world No. 1 than actually getting there.”
Djokovic dominated his match with his serve, striking 12 aces against Lopez. Djokovic commented on how well his serve has been lately. “I’m trying to enjoy the efficiency of my serve. I’m not very well‑known around the tour for big serving. But so far in this tournament, and also in Beijing, it has been working very well for me. It has been giving me a lot of free points, a lot of confidence into the matches.
“This is a bit faster surface compared to the one I played last week, maybe compared to the majority of the hard court tournaments we’re playing. So serve, advantage of having good serve, precise serves, is really very much needed in these circumstances.”
Djokovic was asked about this being the ‘greatest era’ since all four majors in 2012 have been won by a different man.
“Reflecting on 2012 in specific, I think it’s fair to say it has been quite an evenly balanced year between the four, if you want to call it,” the Serb said. “But it hasn’t been over. There’s still a few more big events to come. Still there are things up for grabs, like No. 1 place in the world. It’s something that gives me a lot of motivation with Roger also.
“On the other hand, we haven’t had four Grand Slam winners in how many years? So this is a great opportunity for the people to see a new Grand Slam winner, to get more attention to our sport. From that perspective it’s really good.”
So what has been the difference for Djokovic this year as opposed to 2011?
“Well, the scheduling more or less was similar in these two seasons,” Djokovic said. “I haven’t changed my routines that I’ve been respecting in practices, preparation and recovery programs. It all has been the same.
But I’ve made maybe a couple of more wiser decisions on how to play, what to play, what to do in order to stay fit. I’ve had very long and emotional 2011. Winning the US Open also brought me a lot of joy, but a lot of fatigue also. I went back to Serbia and played a Davis Cup match, which got my injury worse, then I had to be away for two months also.
“This year hasn’t been the case. I haven’t played a Davis Cup. Maybe that helped me to stay fit. But I’ll be having Davis Cup matches in the next year hopefully. I’m really looking forward to play for my country once again. I’ll try to keep the good scheduling as a priority.”
“I think I did a decent job,” Murray said of his win on Thursday. “ It’s very, very different conditions to last week. I think you can see by some of the results here, the guys that have come from Beijing have adapted to the conditions much, much quicker.
“So, yeah, I just tried to stay solid and go for the lines too much early on. I tried to keep the ball low. You know, he’s very explosive when the ball’s up around his shoulders. Just tried to keep the ball low, play solid, and I served well.”
“I got a bit frustrated at the beginning of the second set”, Murray continued. “I had just broken serve and played a bad game to get broken back. Yeah, I wanted to try and finish the match, you know, as best as I could.
“I gave away the momentum that I had and let him back into the match. So sometimes it can be better to get your emotions out and move on. I managed to do that by breaking the next game.
“Better to not let it fester sometimes and maybe let it affect you for a few games. Like I say, I got the break in the next game, so that was good.”
Murray will face the veteran Radek Stepanek in the quarterfinals on Friday, who knocked out John Isner.
“He’s one of the few guys that still plays at the top of the game in singles and doubles,” the Scot said of his next opponent. He’s incredibly fit for his age. I think he’s maybe 33, 34 now. He’s in great shape. He’s incredibly quick and flexible. He has a very different game style to a lot of the guys now.
“He’s a character on the court, as well. He likes to entertain, too, and can frustrate guys. I’ll need to make sure I’m focused and patient and take care of my side of the court tomorrow.”
Also moving into the quarterfinals were Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic and Tommy Haas who upset Janko Tipsarevic.
Tennis Panorama News is in Shanghai this week covering the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Follow updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.