There were yet more signs today that Roger Federer’s form is slowly dropping, as the charismatic Frenchman Gael Monfils beat him in three sets at the Shangai Open.
Going into the contest, Monfils had only won one of seven encounters against the Swiss former world number one tennis player, and was very much the underdog.
But, this was relinquished quickly, as Monfils won the first set 6-4. It then could have made worse reading for Federer, as the second set stood at 5-3, leaving him on the edge of a straight sets exit.
He fought back however, taking the second set into a tie break, clinching it with a decisive mini-break, 7-5. This forced the game into a third set and had the appearance of a classic Federer comeback, until Monfils went a break up in the third set, holding his serve and securing a famous win 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, to move into the quarter-finals.
Monfils will need his top form however, as he is now faces defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic, who despatched the Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3 in a routine win.
For Federer though, this defeat moves him into a precarious position where he may miss out on qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in November, as his position in the world’s top eight looks increasingly unstable.
He faces competition from several top players for the last remaining spots and despite Andy Murray’s absence increasing the chance of his participation, he still faces immense pressure.
Just behind him in the ATP rankings are Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, rising Canadian star Milos Raonic and his countryman Stanislas Wawrinka, who could easily qualify in front of him.
Thus, his performances in the remaining two tour events before the ATP Tour Finals are crucial, as there is little separating the group and every ranking point is now crucial, as he bids to be eligible for his 12th straight Tour Final appearance.
David Ferrer’s loss in the last-16 was less significant as the world number four has already qualified for the ATP Tour Finals, but it was still a shock defeat, as the experienced German Florian Mayer won in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.
A two and a half hour epic between Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro was almost forgotten under the shock results, but it too caused an upset as Almagro came through the match, winning 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) to secure a quarter-final spot.
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