SHANGHAI, China - Despite top seeds Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and David Ferrer all advancing on day two of the second round of the 2011 Shanghai Rolex Masters, no one is safe from upset on the ultra-fast Chinese hard court, no one. Just ask fourth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who dropped his last two sets to Japan's Kei Nishikori (pictured below) in a stunner, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-4.
"Today I had a good opponent... I played a good tennis, [a]nd today my opponent was just better than me," commented Tsonga. "He didn't miss one dropshot... [h]e returned unbelievable. I think nobody breaks me many times like this... [i]f he play again like this, he's going to win a lot of matches."
Nishikori now advances to face Colombian Santiago Giraldo, who took out 14th-seeded Jurgen Melzer in a third-set tiebreaker, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5). And with fifth-seeded Mary Fish falling to Australian wunderkind Bernard Tomic the previous night, the bottom half of the bracket is still wide open, save defending champ Murray, who stands in the way of a draw of hopefuls, having yet to even take the court in Shanghai, his second-round opponent Dmitry Tursonov withdrawing due to a thigh injury.
Nadal's path to the finals is a bit trickier with last week's China Open champ Results from 2011 Shanghai Rolex Masters, October 11, 2011, the third-seeded Ferrer, and the always- dangerous Andy Roddick still alive in the top half of the draw, but after defeating countryman Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-3, 6-2, avenging a loss in their previous meeting at the 2010 Thailand Open, Nadal is now looking to redeem his premature exit from Shanghai in 2010.
Despite the win, Nadal, who serves as Vice President of the ATP Player Council, still found time to voice his comments on the player's desire for ball regulation during these late weeks of the season, when players are entering tournaments all over Asia several weeks in a row to earn crucial points towards qualifying for November's Tour Finals.
"[It's] unbelievable [how] the conditions can change from Tokyo to here. The ball is completely different. Something must change because is too dangerous for the shoulders... [t]ournaments straight must be the same ball," offered Nadal. "[H]ere, for example, you play in Bangkok one ball, Tokyo another ball, here another ball... [w]e can have different balls on tour. But you cannot change the ball every week. That's too much, in my opinion."
While Murray ducked questions the day before about the rumored player-initiated meetings regarding tour revisions, stating that "the players haven't met... there's not really any point in saying anything because it just starts speculation. There's no truth behind a lot of the things that are getting said," he made similar comments concerning ball conditions.
"The balls that we played with the last three weeks, every one of them is just completely different," stated Murray. I think that's something that I would like to see changed, to have more consistency in the balls. It's like playing a different game almost."
With tour reforms still only possibility and clearly a long way from implementation, the focus returns to third-round action, where it's anyone's draw, a shocking upset looming on the courts of the Shanghai Qizhong Tennis Center.
Results from 2011 Shanghai Rolex Masters, October 12, 2011
Rafael Nadal  def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-2
Andy Murray  def. Dmitry Tursonov retired due to injury
David Ferrer  def. Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 (7)
Kei Nishikori def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-4
Tomas Berdych  def. Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3
Alexandr Dolgopolov  def. Albert Ramos 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
Santiago Giraldo def. Jurgen Melzer  4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5)
Juan Carlos Ferrero def. Fernando Verdasco  4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Matthew Ebden def. Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2