SHANGHAI, China — Roger Federer said he did not want to lose in front of his young family as he was pushed all the way for the second match in a row at the Shanghai Masters on Thursday.
The reigning champion squeezed into the quarter-finals after defeating the 28th-ranked Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.
The top seed will play Japan’s eighth seed Kei Nishikori, while Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev are also through, albeit with far less hassle.
The 37-year-old Swiss great was forced to fight in his opening match on Wednesday against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
Normal order appeared to have been restored when the 20-time Grand Slam champion comfortably claimed the first set against Bautista Agut.
But the Spaniard earned a piece of personal history after that, winning the second set — the first time he had taken a set against the Swiss maestro.
The 30-year-old Bautista Agut had the whiff of an upset in his nostrils and the prospect of a first victory over the Swiss at the eighth attempt.
But in the ninth game of the deciding set, Federer made the breakthrough on his opponent’s serve, pumping his fist as another hard-won victory loomed into view.
Federer’s wife, Mirka, and their four children were in the arena and he said afterwards: “I’m not sure if they give me more courage fighting on court, but they were here today.”
“I was telling myself, particularly tonight I cannot do this (lose) because they were there, but I don’t know how much I draw from that, quite honestly.”
Federer said that two stern encounters had set him up nicely for Nishikori on Friday.
“I hope it’s going to help me that I played against Medvedev and also Bautista Agut, two really good baseliners.
“From that standpoint, I feel like I found a rhythm.”