SHANGHAI, China -- In what will go down as the biggest shocker of the 2011 Shanghai Rolex Masters, top-seed Rafael Nadal fell in straight sets to 15th-seeded Florian Mayer, 7-6 (5), 6-3, exiting the Shanghai tournament in the third round for the second straight year.
"My return, when he was serving the first serve, was terrible tonight. I only won four points in whole match with the first serve of him," explained Nadal. "For me today is disappointing day. I felt that I did everything right... practicing with good motivation, practicing well in general."
Nadal looked strong in the first set, holding serve and fending off two break point opportunities by Mayer in the tenth game, but after losing the first set tie breaker, 7-5, Mayer taking the decisive point with an ace, Nadal's game deteriorated, dropping serve twice in the second set, while Mayer played a relatively mistake-free contest, full of his signature slicing backhands and finessing drop shots.
"For sure it is the biggest win in my career... it feels really nice. I cannot actually believe it right now," offered Mayer, who will face Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals after the Spaniard upset sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, 6-4, 6-4, in the late contest. "The tournament goes on tomorrow so I have to stay focused for the rest of the week."
With Nadal sent packing, second-seeded Andy Murray is now the top ranking player remaining, thanks to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over thirteenth-seeded Stanislaus Wawrinka.
Murray, who was seeing his first action in Shanghai after his second-round opponent withdrew due to injury, dashed out to a 3-0 lead in the first set, breaking Wawrinka's serve twice in that span, but Wawrinka exposed Murray in the second set, evening the match at one set apiece. From there, Murray cruised out to a 5-0 lead in the third set, before finishing Wawrinka off.
"I got myself pumped up right at the beginning of the third set. I think it was important. Stan[islaus] was playing very well, commented Murray. "I was trying to control the ball. Especially middle of the second set, I was really struggling. Really had to make sure I got my feet moving."
Murray now moves on to face little-known Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden, who took out eighth-seeded Gilles Simon, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8).
"He's got a nice game. You know, he's quite effortless," added Murray, about Ebden. "He's talented. It will be a tough match. He's obviously just coming off the best win of his career, so he'll be confident."
Third round action began earlier in the day with 10th-seeded Andy Roddick decisively handling seventh-seeded Nicolas Almagro, 6-3, 6-4. Holding serve throughout, and breaking Almagro twice, Roddick has improved with every sequential contest in Shanghai, especially from serve, where he recorded 10 aces, two of them coming on set points.
"Serve felt really good today ... [n]et play become as lot better when you're serving good. I've always said my best volley is a very good serve or approach shot to set it up," stated Roddick. "I cleaned that up a little bit today. I think that makes everything look a little bit better ... you go two [for] two on break points, it makes it look pretty straightforward."
Roddick moves on to face third-seeded David Ferrer, who battled back from a one-set deficit to move past Juan Carlos Ferrero, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
The remaining quarterfinal matchup will pit 12th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov, who handled Bernard Tomic 5-7, 6-1, 6-0, against Kei Nishikori, who defeated Santiago Giraldo, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3.
Follow Dan Shapiro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dannyshap