Second seed Roger Federer was sent packing by the unheralded Spanish player Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
The defending champion, who returned to action after a long lay-off following his Davis Cup participation for Switzerland against Holland in September, was rusty, committing far too many unforced errors and struggled to stamp his authority over the 70th ranked player.
Ramos-Vinolas served immaculately in the opening set and grabbed his solitary break of serve in the eighth game of the third set to notch up the first victory over a top-ten player in his career.
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The Spaniard landed 75 percent of his first serves, fired six aces and saved four of the six break points he faced.
Federer had a good look at his opponent’s serve in the opening game of the contest, grinding out two break points but couldn’t capitalize.
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The set then remained devoid of any major opportunities with both the players holding their serves without much of trouble.
The tiebreaker which ensued saw Federer blink first, as a forehand unforced error from him at 2-2 handed the mini-break to the 27-year-old Spaniard. He converted from his first set point at Federer’s serve at 6-4 after the Swiss sailed a forehand long.
The 17-times grand slam champion, however, bounced back in the second and got his nose in front, breaking Ramos-Vinolas' serve in the fifth and seventh game and served out the set to push the match into a decider.
The defending champion had the momentum with him but struggled to tame his opponent’s serve who lifted his game in the final set.
Serving at 3-4, a couple of unforced errors saw Federer staring at a break point and the Spaniard grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he rifled a forehand down the line to go 5-3 up.
While serving for the match, Ramos-Vinolas underwent a nervy moment as he trailed 15-30, but a backhand error from Federer and a couple of good first serves saw him over the finish line.
Prior to this match, Ramos-Vinolas had lost all 15 of his top-ten encounters and had only won two sets in the process.
Last year, Federer had saved six match points in his opening round match before going on to win the tournament.
And the 34-year-old revealed he was aiming to repeat the same resilience he displayed the previous year, but credited his adversary for denying him to get any foothold in the contest.
Humble in defeat
He said in his post-match interview: “I definitely thought of last year's match.
“But at the same time it was a completely different match. Playing a lefty maybe also had something to do with it. Who knows? Albert was doing a good job of trying to stay on the offensive as well as I was trying to do the same. There were some good rallies there.
“I had my chances. I just couldn't make it today. I’ve got to look into it. But at the end of the day this can happen during the year. Unfortunately, here in Shanghai where I was defending champion, I was really hoping again to play a great tournament.
“I just think the first round here in Shanghai has always been historically quite difficult, getting used to the conditions and the surface and the balls. The balls play very different than in other places. Last year I got lucky. This year I didn't. So it's a pity.”
The defeat will bolster Andy Murray’s prospects of finishing above Federer at second place in the year-ending rankings. The Scotsman currently leads the veteran Swiss by 770 points and can put further daylight between himself and Federer by going deep into this event.
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