Shanghai: Roger Federer survived a huge scare to reach the Shanghai Masters quarter finals and guarantee himself a record-breaking 300th career week as world No. 1 .
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.
“It’s obviously an amazing number and I never thought of anything like this when I was a little kid,” Federer said.
“I just thought one day my dream would come true to play on the tour. So here I am at 300 weeks, and it’s probably one of my biggest accomplishments and something I’m very proud of. No doubt about it.”
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 tiebreak 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.
“I just keep on trying,” he said. “I knew I had a chance going into the breaker and I was just a little lucky.
“But I never stopped believing. But he was the better player for two sets. It was great finding a way out.”
A dejected Wawrinka failed to win another game as Federer wrapped up the third set 6-0.
Earlier, Serbian second seed Novak Djokovic looking to wrestle the world No.1 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 Andy 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 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, 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.