Viktor Troicki has handed Rafael Nadal a surprise setback at the Shanghai Masters, scoring a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) upset which left the Spaniard pondering the state of his once untouchable game.
Second seed Andy Murray steered well clear of any similar fate on Wednesday, with the Scot starting his Shanghai campaign on safe ground 6-3 6-2 over American Steve Johnson.
It was Murray’s seventh straight match win, with the victory into the third round taking 75 minutes.
Nadal lost in the Shanghai second round in 2014 and re-lived that nightmare in 94 minutes on court at this edition as he duelled with Troicki, who had lost all five of their previous matches.
“I played really well,” Troicki said.
“I was aggressive, I served well, I hit the ball nice. It was a great feeling on the court playing like this and playing like this against Rafa Nadal.
“It’s extra special to beat him for the first time, especially in such a big tournament like Shanghai. I’m really glad how I played.”
The 31st-ranked Troicki earned one of the biggest upsets of his career over the 2009 finalist, never facing a break point.
Nadal returns to Europe with mixed results after reaching the Beijing quarter-finals a week ago but failing to make an impression again in Shanghai.
He said he needs time to reflect, perhaps a hint that he might be considering ending his season early.
“I have two-and-a-half months to put myself where I want to be (at the start of 2017),” he said.
“I need to create pain again with my forehand.”
Third seed Wawrinka kept control of his opening match after a bye against his 48th-ranked opponent, who played a quarter-final last week against Murray in Beijing.
The Swiss advanced in an efficient 61 minutes with three breaks of serve and next faces unseeded Gilles Simon after the Frenchman beat Wu Di of China 6-2 6-2.
Wawrinka says he feels good physically after skipping Tokyo last week due to back pain.
Spain’s Marcel Granollers earned an upset as he fired 10 aces to defeat seventh seed Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-1) with the Czech losing in his first round for the second week in a row in China.
The defeat came as a blow to the year-end final hopes of Berdych, who stands one position out of the eight-man field.
American Jack Sock beat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-3 4-6 6-4 while Canadian Vasek Pospisil won two consecutive matches for the first time in a year, beating Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 7-6 (7-2).
Tokyo finalist David Goffin, seeded 11th, beat Benoit Paire of France 6-1 7-6 (7-0).