It is the final weekend of a Masters Series, and the usual suspects are nowhere to be found. Novak Djokovic pulled out with a nagging back injury, and Roger Federer was also a no-show for “rest and recuperation”. Rafael Nadal bowed out in the 3rd Round to an inspired performance by Florian Mayer.
With the Big 3 out of the mix, #4 Andy Murray and #5 David Ferrer certainly both look eager to capitalize on their absence. Andy Murray will pass Roger and move to #3 if he wins the title, and the Scot has been very vocal all week about this being a major source of motivation. Andy is looking for his 3rd consecutive title to go undefeated in Asia after wins in Bangkok and Tokyo. He may have gotten a little lucky early in the week with a 1st Round bye and 2nd Round walkover in order to receive some well-needed rest.
David Ferrer, despite an otherwise successful career and many weeks in the Top 5, has never won a Master Series. He has given himself another look at securing that elusive Master Series shield with a 67(5) 63 63 win over Feliciano Lopez. Lopez came in to the match with a 6-4 record against Ferrer and an even more encouraging 6-1 record on hard courts. Ferrer showed why he is Top 5 by playing tough after losing a tight first set, and Lopez quite frankly just got tight at the end of the 3rd set. While serving at 3-4 in the final set, Feli threw in 3 double-faults and a sprayed forehand to hand Ferru a trip to the final. Earlier in the week, Ferrer fought off 3 match points against his best friend Juan Carlos and also needed a 3rd set tie-break to beat Andy Roddick. Ferrer certainly earned his way to his 3rd Master Series final, and unlike his previous two attempts he will not have to face Rafael Nadal on a clay court.
David will now sit back and wait to see whether or not he will be the underdog in the final to red-hot Andy Murray or the massive favorite against young Kei Nishikori. Stay tuned for our next post “Shanghai Surprises (Plural)” to learn more about Kei and Project 45 among other surprises this week.