There must be something strange in the air (literally), because this year’s Tennis Masters Cup has been quite a doozy. And after last night’s action (Day 3), it’s officially a doozy. Richard Gasquet of France, the last man to qualify for the tournament, upset number three in the world and crowd favorite, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, in convincing fashion, 6-4, 6-2. It was Djokovic’s second loss in the tournament, after falling to Spaniard David Ferrer in Day 1 action. With the two straight set losses in the bank, the Serbian has virtually no hope of making it through into the next round.
Things are also not looking too good for Rafael Nadal. Last night, he too fell to the giant-killer Ferrer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Unlike Djokovic, he was able to beat Gasquet in the first round, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The fate of Nadal, Gasquet, and Ferrer will all be decided Thursday night, when Nadal takes on Djokovic, and Ferrer takes on Gasquet.
The other group of guys in the “red group” started yesterday with Andy Roddick defeating number four in the world and angry alleged match-fixer, Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. The real shocker came later that night when defending champion and number one in the world, Roger Federer, suffered his first back-to-back loss in four and a half years. The Swiss man fell to Chilean and double Olympic medalist Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-5. Hope is not all lost for Federer. He can still qualify for the semi-finals if he can beat Roddick and Davydenko.
If you have been following the ATP Tour recently, perhaps all of these events are not that shocking to you. You see, the best player on the tour at the moment isn’t even in Shanghai this week. That’s right, David Nalbandian from Argentina finished 9th in the ATP race to the Masters Cup, thus securing his spot as number one…alternate.
Nalbandian made shockwaves just prior to the start the Masters Cup in Shanghai by defeating Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer (the top three players in the world) to win the second to last qualifying event for the Masters Cup in Madrid, in mid-October. Nalbandian then moved on to the last qualifying event in Paris, during the beginning of November, and repeated his success in Madrid by winning the event. Along the way, he again beat Federer in the Round of 16, and then moved on to beat Nadal in the final. As the first alternate, Nalbandian was asked to come to Shanghai in case of an injury or withdrawal of one of the main qualifiers. However, he turned that down the free flight, including the $50,000 appearance fee.
2007 Tennis Masters Cup (2007 网球大师杯比赛)
Qizhong Stadium (旗忠森林体育城网球中心)
5500 Yuanjiang Road, Minhang district (闵行区元江路5500号)
Runs until 11.18
Tickets: call +86 21 962288
High-res photo by Quentin Shih of the Masters Cup players located here.