For much of the last decade, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have dominated the tennis world. In addition to a combined 20 Grand Slam titles since 2010, the duo have also combined to win six of the last seven Shanghai Masters.
That made Friday’s quarterfinals a huge surprise when the No. 1 and No. 3 players in the world went down in stunning upsets.
Whether Federer and Djokovic are past their primes may not entirely be the most important factor. Friday marked another point of evidence toward the arrival of the next generation of stars, including 22-year-old Alexander Zverev and 21-year-old Stafanos Tsitsipas.
“I mean, they're knocking on the door big time, the young guys,” Federer said, via the Associated Press. “It’s exciting. They’re great. It’s really open now, I think, for the finish of this tournament.”
With their wins, No. 6 Zverev and No. 7 Tsitsipas have good shots to add a much-needed title at Shanghai. Zverev will face off against Matteo Berrettini on Saturday, while Tsitsipas will play Daniil Medvedev.
Federer drops first Shanghai quarterfinals match
Zverev was able to overpower Federer with 17 aces to just three for the Swiss veteran, leading to him winning an impressive 79 percent of his first serves.
Zverev had five chances to put away the match in the second set, but Federer was able to stretch it out to a final set. The third set was not particularly close, as the German won 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
While this was the first time in six matches that Federer lost in the quarterfinals at Shanghai, Zverev has been a tough opponent for the 38-year-old. Zverev holds a 4-3 advantage in his career, including a controversial win at the ATP Finals last November.
Djokovic cannot defend Shanghai title
Djokovic's loss was perhaps more surprising, considering he had won 24 straight sets in Asia, including winning last year's Shanghai Masters. But this is now the second time Tsitsipas has upset Dojokic in their three matches.
Tsitsipas had to battle back after losing the first set, 6-3. He stormed back to win the last two sets, 7-5, 6-3.
“He deserved the victory,” Djokovic said of Tsitsipas. “He was the better player in the second and third sets. I started well in the first set, but I wasn't sharp enough.”
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