Although Roger Federer finally won a match in straight sets at this year's Shanghai Masters, it didn't save him any energy.
The defending champion reached the semifinals Friday by beating eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6 (4). His first two matches both went three sets.
“It was the same length, actually, as all three of my matches went the same length basically, an hour and 52 [minutes],” Federer said. “So you see, two sets sometimes doesn't tell the truth.”
Federer finished the match with 10 aces and landed an impressive 71% of his first serves. He went up a break at the start of the second set, but then trailed 4-1 in the tiebreaker.
Federer, a two-time champion in Shanghai, will next face 13th-seeded Borna Coric. The Croat defeated Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-4.
Earlier, fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev secured a spot in next month's ATP Finals with a 6-4, 6-4 quarterfinal win over Kyle Edmund.
Zverev is the fifth player to qualify for the season-ending tournament in London, joining Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro in the eight-player field.
“Obviously it's great to finally officially make it and obviously be part of the eight best again, which is an elite group, which is kind of the goal for everyone at the beginning of the season,” Zverev said.
Zverev will next play the second-seeded Djokovic in the semifinals. Djokovic, the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion who is looking to win a record fourth Shanghai title, defeated seventh-seeded Kevin Anderson 7-6 (1), 6-3.
Ola Malmqvist is being promoted to director of coaching for the U.S. Tennis Assn.’s player development program.
The USTA also announced two other moves Friday: Fed Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi is replacing Malmqvist as head of women's tennis, and director of player identification and development Kent Kinnear is becoming head of men's tennis.
Kinnear takes over for Brian Boland, who left the USTA in May to become Baylor's tennis coach.
Malmqvist fills the job as director of coaching that's been open since March 2017, when Jose Higueras left to move into a consulting role with the USTA.
Malmqvist has been the USTA's head of women's tennis since 2008, when the position was created. There were five American women in the WTA's year-end top 100 at the time. There are 14 in this week's top 100, and American girls won five of the last nine junior Grand Slam singles titles.
Rain saves Svitolina … at least temporarily
Top-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine was close to bowing out of the Hong Kong Open when rain disrupted the quarterfinals on Friday.
Sixth-seeded Wang Qiang of China was leading Svitolina 6-2, 5-2, and serving at 15-30, when their match was suspended until Saturday.
Svitolina entered this week as one of five players still in contention to earn the final three spots in the eight-player WTA Finals in Singapore.
Even if she ends up losing the quarterfinal to Wang, she could still possibly land a berth in the WTA Finals. To do so, she would need to play the Moscow tournament next week. She's currently not entered, but could request a main draw wild card.
Pliskova, Bacsinszky to meet in Tianjin semis
Karolina Pliskova and Timea Bacsinszky both won Friday at the Tianjin Open, and they will next face each other in the semifinals.
The top-seeded Pliskova, who is still hoping to qualify for a third straight WTA Finals in Singapore, beat Katie Boulter 5-7, 6-0, 6-3 despite being down a break in the third set.
Bacsinszky, who had been sidelined for six months with a right leg injury, upset fourth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5).