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Simon upstages Wawrinka in Shanghai – Djokovic, Murray advance; Venus knocked out of Hong Kong Open

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return shot against Vasek Pospisil of Canada during the men’s singles match of the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament at Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center in Shanghai, China on Oct 13. (AP)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return shot against Vasek Pospisil of Canada during the men’s singles match of the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament at Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center in Shanghai, China on Oct 13. (AP)

SHANGHAI, Oct 13, (Agencies): Frenchman Gilles Simon upstaged world number three Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-4 in the third round of the Shanghai Masters on Thursday.Simon, ranked 32nd in the world, took 96 minutes to beat U.S. Open champion Wawrinka and set up a last eight clash with American Jack Sock, who humbled fifth seed Milos Raonic 0-6 6-4 7-6(8).

The Swiss was leading 3-1 in the first set but a flurry of unforced errors allowed Simon to finish off the upset victory.

Both feeling refreshed and recharged, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray each won in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals at the Shanghai Masters.

The top-ranked Djokovic was broken once in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Vasek Pospisil, improving his record at the tournament to 26-3. Murray was even better: He won 21 of 22 points on his first serve and made only 10 errors in a 6-1, 6-3 win over 13th-seeded Lucas Pouille.

Both players have said they feel energized this week after taking time off following the U.S. Open.

Djokovic hasn’t played at all because of an elbow injury, pulling out of the China Open in Beijing last week. He said he used the time away to recover after a mentally exhausting summer, find more balance in his life, and rediscover his passion for the game.

Djokovic said the rest and mental adjustments are already helping him on the court, too. Despite dropping serve once, he said he played a nearly complete match against Pospisil.

“I was very pleased with the way I have played from the first to last point,” Djokovic said. “I don’t think I have dropped my level at all.”

Murray has played more in recent weeks, leading Britain against Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinals and then capturing the China Open title. But he also had some downtime.

“My body felt so much better after taking like seven, eight days off of complete rest, which I hadn’t had for quite a long time,” Murray said. “I’m really, really happy and glad now that I did that. It’s obviously working out well for me just now.”

Murray hasn’t dropped a set in his last eight matches, going back to his victory over Guido Pella in the Davis Cup last month.

U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka didn’t look nearly as fresh on Thursday. The third-seeded Swiss player had 43 unforced errors in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Gilles Simon.

Sixth-seeded Gael Monfils was knocked out of the tournament, too. He fell to David Goffin 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

In other matches, Jack Sock notched another breakthrough in what’s been his best season on tour, rebounding to beat Milos Raonic 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8) and reach his first Masters-level quarterfinal. He saved two match points in the tiebreaker.

It was also Sock’s first win over Raonic since 2013; he had lost eight straight to the Canadian since then, many ending in tiebreakers.

“We’ve had a lot of close matches,” Sock said. “It feels great to finally get one and win a tiebreak against him. It’s been a couple of years.”

The highlight of Sock’s year came at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where he won the gold medal in mixed doubles and bronze in men’s doubles — the only tennis player to win more than one. He also reached a career-high ranking of No. 22 and made the fourth round at the U.S. Open.

He next plays Simon for a spot in the semifinals.

Alexander and Mischa Zverev had a chance to put the brothers in the final eight, but only one prevailed.

Mischa, ranked No. 110, beat Marcel Granollers 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1 to become the first qualifier to reach a Masters quarterfinal this year. Playing simultaneously on the stadium court, younger brother Alexander lost to ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-5.

Mischa Zverev next plays Djokovic. Murray, on the bottom half of the draw, will face Goffin.

Djokovic dropped a hint that he may split with coach Boris Becker on Thursday, as Nick Kyrgios was hit with a big fine for his Shanghai Masters meltdown.

Djokovic, who says he is taking a fresh mental approach after struggling in recent months, revealed that he had made no plans about retaining Becker in his team next year.

“We are still working (together), yeah… for now the plan is the rest of the season, what’s left, indoor tournaments,” said Djokovic, after reaching the Shanghai quarter-finals.

Asked what would happen next year, the defending champion said: “We still haven’t talked about it.”

Separately Australia’s Kyrgios received a $16,500 fine after his extraordinary 6-3, 6-1 defeat to 110th-ranked Mischa Zverev where he tanked points and argued with fans.

The combustible world number 14 received the maximum $10,000 fine for “lack of best efforts”, plus $5,000 for abusing a spectator and another $1,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Trouble-prone Kyrgios, 21, patted a slow serve into his opponent’s court and failed to contest several points in his second-round defeat on Wednesday.

Kyrgios also clashed with the chair umpire and fans, received a code violation for swearing and had a heated argument with one spectator when he was facing match points.

Venus Williams was eliminated from the Hong Kong Open Thursday by France’s Alize Cornet after a tightly fought match.

The 49th-ranked Cornet beat the American, ranked 14 in the world, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in a match that lasted 2 hours and 7 minutes.

She will face defending champion Jelena Jankovic of Serbia at the next stage.

Top seed Angelique Kerber of Germany won her match against America’s Louisa Chirico, which was suspended after a little over two sets on Wednesday when rain stopped play.

Kerber dominated in the third set on Thursday, ultimately winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, and is in the top spot on the road to Singapore’s WTA finals. She will play Australia’s Daria Gavrilova in the next round.

Britain’s Johanna Konta saw her chance to play in Singapore’s WTA finals fade after she withdrew from the Hong Kong Open with an abdominal injury Thursday.

“Obviously never the ideal way to finish the tournament, never the intention when you come here to play,” said Konta.

Konta was in Hong Kong to try to cap a stunning rise over the last 15 months from 146th to ninth in the rankings.

The 25-year-old Sydney-born Briton broke into the top 10 with her run to the final at her maiden appearance at last week’s China Open.

She pulled out before a second-round match against China’s Wang Qiang, who will now face Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki on Friday.

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew from the Tianjin Open with a right thigh injury on Thursday, shortly after beating Evgeniya Rodina 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

Radwanska said she pulled out to give herself time to fully recover before the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month.

“It’s the end of the season, I guess everyone is struggling with something,” she said in comments posted on the WTA website.

Radwanska broke Rodina five times and won all but four points on her first serve. She had won her last eight matches, starting with her run to the China Open title last week.

Radwanska’s withdrawal allows Chinese veteran Peng Shuai to advance to the semifinals. Peng beat Chang Kai-Chen 6-3, 6-2.

Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig also reached the quarterfinals, beating Lara Arruabarrena 6-4, 6-2, while Alison Riske defeated Magda Linette 6-3, 7-6 (2).


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