They had very little rest time, having had to play their first-round match on Tuesday after a long final on Sunday and the trip from Tokyo to Shanghai, and it showed today, as both Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic were ousted in the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters, the most important tournament of the Asian Tour.
Nishikori as well as Raonic ran out of gas, and the Canadian had given signs of it in the match that was opposing him to Marinko Matosevic on Tuesday. In the second round, he was facing Marcos Baghdatis, one of the opponents a player does not wish to face when he is not close to 100%.
For the second time in as many days (and the sixth this season), this match ended up in three tiebreaks. However, contrary of yesterday (where there were none), there have been four breaks of serve in that one. In the end, the Cypriot prevailed, 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 7-6(3) to reach the round of 16.
As for Nishikori, he started strong against Sam Querrey, taking the first set comfortably, but only delayed the inevitable. Empty, he conceded his opponent a deserved 2-6 6-1 6-4 victory.
After Juan Mónaco showing the same signs of fatigue on Tuesday, I wonder just how much the long season had taken its toll on the players, especially those outside of the top 4 who usually play a few more tournaments than the top guns. Many of them show clear signs of exhaustion, and for most, fitness is not generally a problem.
Of course, this also puts into perspective the great energy level of players like Novak Djokovic who, after winning Beijing on Sunday, breezed through his first match against Grigor Dimitrov this Wednesday (6-3 6-2 in 54 minutes).
Other day’s results
Milos Raonic (12) and Kei Nishikori (14) were only two of the seeds who were sent back packing today, as there have been three more upsets, two of them perhaps a little less surprising. Feliciano López had the better of Philipp Kohschreiber (16), 6-3 6-4, and Alexandr Dolgopolov defeated Gilles Simon (15), 6-3 6-4.
Dolgopolov will be defending champion Andy Murray’s first rival, as Murray had a walkover from Florian Mayer and did not play.
Richard Gasquet had a good chance to distance himself from Juan Mónaco and catch up on Nicolás Almagro in the Race, but the 11th seed, instead, fell to the poison that is Radek Stepanek, 6-4 6-4. The lack of a good strategy and overly defensive play against an opponent such as the Czech is the downfall of any player, and the Frenchman fell right into the trap. Another missed opportunity for Gasquet.
In the other matches:
-  Roger Federer d. [Q] Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-3 7-5
-  Tomas Berdych d. Andreas Seppi, 6-3 6-3
-  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d.
Benoit Paire, 7-6(7) 7-5
-  Janko Tipsarevic d. Viktor Troicki, 6-2 7-6(3)
-  Stanislas Wawrinka d. Denis Istomin, 6-4 4-6 6-4
- Tommy Haas d. Tommy Robredo, 6-3 6-3