Gritty Nadal battles into Shanghai semi-finals

Rusedski's opinion

Federer, a 19-time Grand Slam champion, was in full flow under the Qizhong Tennis Centre roof, which was closed because of downpours in Shanghai.

With the win, the Spanish tennis maestro, who is now riding a 15-match winning streak, had improved to an ATP World Tour-best 64-9 match record in 2017.

The 31-year-old Nadal, who was on a 16-match streak before Sunday's final, said Federer was reaping the benefits of taking breaks from the sport.

"My team has worked really well in all parts of my game just to bring it up to the nice level that I can keep it up throughout every single week", he said.

The Swiss world number two beat Nadal in the finals of the Australian Open and Miami Masters and in the last 16 at Indian Wells earlier this year, and never looked like losing to his long-time rival in Shanghai, firing 10 aces as he cruised to victory.

The 16-time Grand Slam victor saw off the Bulgarian Dimitrov in Beijing last week but suffered some hairy moments in getting the better of him again in a nervy quarter-final played in overcast conditions.

Standing on court after his Shanghai win this weekend, Federer spoke about how unlikely the events of 2017 have been.

"Of course was not the best match for me of the week. It's been a pleasure playing against you again today". That's the real thing, no?

He sealed the win on his opponent's serve, winning the second of three match points to claim his 94th career title.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame the Belarusian teenager 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016.

"I don't know what my expectations were going in", Federer said.

Federer broke Nadal twice in the first set to set up the result, the current world No.2 beating the current world No.1 - two positions they have occupied for so long over the past decade and a bit. She reached the fourth round.

The Swiss legend also said on Sunday that he is highly unlikely to knock Nadal off the number one spot in the world rankings in time for the end of the year.

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