Roger Federer’s least successful campaign for 12 years is in danger of ending in further disappointment after the former world No 1 was beaten 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 by Gaël Monfils in the third round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters here today.
Federer has qualified for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals every year since 2002 but could be running out of tournaments in which to muster the ranking points he needs to make the eight-man field.
The places at the O2 Arena in London will go to the eight players who have won the most ranking points in the calendar year. With Andy Murray having pulled out through injury, the last place in the field will go to the man at No 9 in the “Race for London”. Federer is currently seventh, but has four players breathing down his neck, two of whom — Stanislas Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — are through to Friday’s quarter-finals here. Federer has two more tournaments in which to secure his place, in his home city of Basel and at the Paris Masters.
Federer looked badly out of touch against Monfils, who had lost six of their previous seven meetings and has slipped to No 42 in the world during an injury-troubled year.
The 32-year-old Swiss said the most significant factor in his disappointing year had been the back problems which had affected his training. “I’m running late with practice, to be honest, because of the issues I’ve had,” he said. “I believe the extra weeks of practice have been very important for me right now. So that makes me more vulnerable in the early rounds.”
Asked whether he might have to sneak in through the back door at the O2 thanks to Murray’s absence, Federer said: “I hope I don’t have to rely on it. If I have to, I have to. But that’s not really what I want.”
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal moved into the quarter-finals here with straight-sets victories. Djokovic now meets Monfils, while Nadal will next face Wawrinka.