SHANGHAI (AFP) – Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer said that his devoted band of Chinese supporters helped pull him through a tough first set and into the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals on Thursday (Oct 10).
The 38-year-old defeated David Goffin 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 after the 13th seed from Belgium squandered five set points in the first set.
In the last eight, second seed Federer plays fifth seed Alexander Zverev. The German defeated Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-0, 7-6 (7-4).
"I never really felt like I had the upper hand against David today," said the 20-time Grand Slam winner, who looked unusually flustered at times.
Federer was left shaking his head in the first set and he suffered a rare inelegant moment in the 12th game, slipping on his own sweat – "a bit embarrassing", he said.
The Swiss fell awkwardly and was then broken by Goffin, 14th in the world.
But the Belgian lost his nerve despite going 3-1 up in the tiebreak, and Federer roared back to turn the momentum in his favour.
Federer was regularly serenaded by chants of "Roger, Roger, go go go" by local supporters all sitting together in one part of the arena. All were decked out in red.
Federer, who failed to win a Grand Slam this year, said their backing had been key to his revival.
"I know that if I am in trouble, they will be there to cheer me on," he said.
"If I look to them, or pump myself up, I know they will react to that.
"It's definitely very special here because they all sit in one block, sort of like in football to some extent, which is highly unusual for tennis and a tennis tournament."
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic made light work of American John Isner and plays promising 21-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the last eight.
The defending champion from Serbia dismissed the 16th seed Isner 7-5, 6-3 in 74 minutes after taming Isner's booming serve.
"It's always a big challenge returning the serve of Isner," said Djokovic, who is over the shoulder problem that curtailed his US Open defence.
"He's got one of the biggest serves of all time, he's one of the tallest guys ever to play tennis."
The 32-year-old Djokovic is looking imperious, having not dropped a set in claiming the title in Tokyo last week and continuing that perfect record in Shanghai.
Also in the last eight on Friday, colourful Italian Fabio FognRead More – Source