SHANGHAI, China- Roger Federer was uncharacteristically sloppy as he fended off dogged Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to labour into the third round of the Shanghai Masters on Wednesday.
Federer next faces another potential banana skin in Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov on Thursday.
There were 24 places in the rankings between the Swiss legend and Schwartzman and a significant height difference — Federer towering over the 170cm (five foot, seven inch) Argentine.
But Schwartzman cut the 185cm Federer down to size and an error-strewn performance from the world number two was summed up when he squandered an easy backhand volley at the net to go to the first-set tie break.
Federer’s Chinese fans, in red t-shirts and with their faces painted, were stunned.
But from 2-0 up in the tie break Schwartzman lost five points in a row and a relieved Federer clenched his fist when he finally prevailed in the set.
Unseeded Schwartzman began racking up the mistakes in the second set and Federer got an early break to put him into the next round.
Elsewhere, Venus Williams suffered a shock exit in the second round of the WTA Hong Kong Open, comprehensively beaten 7-5, 6-2 by teenager Naomi Osaka.
Japan’s top-ranked player reeled off eight consecutive games at one stage to power into the quarter-finals.
It had all seemed to be going to plan for the American second seed Williams when she broke the 19-year-old Osaka in the fifth game of the opening set.
But then the Williams first serve deserted her when serving for the set at 5-4.
Two double faults and a series of fierce ground strokes from Osaka which unerringly kissed the lines enabled the world number 64 to break twice and take the set 7-5.
“She played well,” a disappointed 37-year-old Williams told reporters.
“You know I made a few errors at 5-4 and after that she played pretty flawless. I can only give her credit.”
Osaka, who had made headlines when she knocked Angelique Kerber out of the US Open in the first round last month, continued in the same vein at the start of the second set and raced into a 5-0 lead.
“I felt like I played offensively and hit really deep hard balls but she had the luck today and could return those balls even harder and deeper,” said Williams.