Roger Federer survived a huge scare yesterday to reach the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals and guarantee a 300th career week as world number one as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray showed ominous form.
The Swiss 17-time grand slam champion came into the match against compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka with an enviable 11-1 head-to head record but struggled to impose himself and was forced to dig deep before winning 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0.
In a gripping contest lasting nearly two hours, Wawrinka, who teamed up with his illustrious compatriot to win Olympics doubles gold in 2008, broke Federer in the seventh game to lead 4-3 and sealed the first set.
Out-of-sorts Federer, 31, continued to struggle in the second set as the pair swapped breaks of serve and was in desperate trouble when Wawrinka earned a break point for a 5-4 lead, which would have left him serving for the match.
But the Swiss great dodged that bullet and stayed strong in a nerve-jangling tie-break to level the match and immediately broke his 27-year-old countryman at the start of the third set as momentum shifted decisively in his favour.
A dejected Wawrinka failed to win another game as Federer wrapped up the third set 6-0.
Earlier, Serbian second seed Djokovic looking to wrestle the world number one ranking from Federer barely broke sweat against Spain's Feliciano Lopez, wrapping up a straightforward 6-3, 6-3 victory in front of enthusiastic fans.
In-form Djokovic, fresh from his third China Open title in Beijing on Sunday, struck 12 aces and took advantage of some below-par serving by the left-handed Lopez, breaking him three times. "I'm not very well known around the Tour for big serving," said Djokovic, 25. "But so far in this tournament, and also in Beijing, it has been working very well for me. It has been giving me a lot of free points, a lot of confidence into the matches."
US Open champion Murray, 25, proved far too strong for Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov, serving consistently well and seizing on five out of six break points to win 6-2, 6-2 in just 57 minutes.
It was the first match of the tournament for the Scot, who had a walkover into the third round. The top eight seeds received a first-round bye.
"I think I did a decent job," said Murray. "It's very, very different conditions to last week. I think you can see by some of the results here, the guys that have come from Beijing have adapted to the conditions much quicker."
Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, currently in line to secure the last singles berth in the elite eight-man field at the ATP World Tour Finals, beat Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) in a contest containing eight breaks.