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Tennis From Shanghai • Nishikori Wins, Anderson Answers, Zverev One Win Away From London ATP Finals

Kei Nishikori of Japan in action against Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the final singles match of the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo, Japan, 07 October 2018. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHER JUE
Kei Nishikori of Japan in action against Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the final singles match of the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo, Japan, 07 October 2018.  EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHER JUE

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Fewer than 15 players are still mathematically alive for spots in the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals. That is much different scenario from last year, when Jack Sock started the Paris Masters in late October all the way down at No. 24 in the race and ended up clinching his place in London by winning the Paris title.

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas was one of the relative few still alive heading into Thursday’s action at the Shanghai Masters. But the 20-year-old Greek knew his chances were already slim.

 

“I know that I have a lot of years left on the ATP Tour; I’m not worried that I may not make the field,” Tsitsipas said before facing fellow London contender Kevin Anderson. “But why not have that as your year-end goal–something to look forward to at the end of the season? I believe I belong among the elite.”

 

He won’t be this season, as Tsitsipas was officially eliminated with a 6-4, 7-6(1) loss to Anderson. The 6’8” South African, who is No. 7 in the 2018 race, fired 10 aces while double-faulting twice and he won 82 percent of his first-serve points to advance in one hour and 40 minutes.

 

It was an especially crucial win for Anderson because Kei Nishikori–one of just two players with the best chance of passing Anderson in the race–continued his late-season charge toward the O2 Arena. Nishikori, a U.S. Open semifinalist and recent Tokyo runner-up, defeated Sam Querrey 7-6(7), 6-4. Next up for Japan’s top player is Roger Federer, who held off Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

 

Alexander Zverev, meanwhile, is one win away from joining Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Juan Martin Del Potro in the year-end championship. The 21-year-old German took another step in his inevitable trip to London with a 6-1, 6-4 rout of Alex de Minaur on Thursday in Shanghai.

“I thought I played well from start to finish,” Zverev assured. “I’m definitely happy with the match today–especially the first set. Obviously playing aggressive, trying to push him back a little bit (was the key).

 

“Look, I’m going day by day. Because in the last few months I haven’t been playing my best. But in Beijing (last week) I was practicing well. I feel well’ I’m a little sick now, still. Hopefully this tournament can really show what I’ve been working on and how hard I’ve been working.”

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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