Tennis: Roger Federer falls at first hurdle in Shanghai

Roger Federer shows the strain as he toils during his opening match at the Shanghai Masters, eventually losing in three sets against the Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Picture: AP
Roger Federer shows the strain as he toils during his opening match at the Shanghai Masters, eventually losing in three sets against the Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Picture: AP
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FOR the second straight year, Roger Federer found himself in trouble in his opening match at the Shanghai Masters yesterday. This time, he couldn’t pull through.

The 17-time grand slam champion was broken late in the third set against Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas and lost 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3.

Federer was in a similar situation last year against Leonardo Mayer, but saved five match points before finally prevailing, and going on to win the tournament.

“Last year I got lucky,” Federer, the world No 3, said. “This year I didn’t. So it’s a pity.”

Federer started off slowly against the 70th-ranked Ramos-Vinolas, failing to convert two break points in the opening set and making a flurry of backhand errors to lose the tiebreaker. He captured the second set with ease, winning every point on his first serve, but Ramos-Vinolas got the only break in the third set and held on to close it out.

It was the Spaniard’s first win against a top-ten player in 16 matches.

“After the second set I thought it will be like always, I will lose,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “At the end after the break, I thought, OK, maybe I can do it.”

Federer added: “I’m always cautious. I don’t underestimate or lack respect for anybody out there.

“These guys are all touring professionals, they know what they’re doing.

“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. But he did a good job. You could see he’s been in the groove.”

In another second-round match, former US Open champion Marin Cilic defeated Borna Coric 6-1, 6-2, a day after saving a match point to win his first-round match.

Third seed Andy Murray faces big-serving opponent Steve Johnson of USA in his second roung match today.

Meanwhile, British No 1 Johanna Konta extended her excellent end-of-season form by thrashing Germany’s Annika Beck at the Linz Open in Austria.

Konta was beaten in qualifying by Klara Koukalova, her first defeat by a lower-ranked opponent since May, but was handed a lucky loser spot to meet Beck in the first round. The German, ranked 41 and six places higher than her opponent, had won the pair’s only previous meeting but it was Konta who came through with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 victory.

British No 2 Heather Watson had to battle through three sets to beat China’s Kai-Lin Zhang in the first round of the Prudential Hong Kong Open, eventually going through with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win in two hours and seven minutes.