Roger Federer Must Dominate on Serve to Defeat Gael Monfils in Shanghai

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Roger Federer Must Dominate on Serve to Defeat Gael Monfils in Shanghai
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Roger Federer's straight-sets win over Andreas Seppi in the second round of the 2013 Shanghai Masters on Wednesday was impressive, but hardly came as a surprise.

After all, Fed is now 10-0 all time against the 22nd-ranked Italian. 

Beating electrifying Frenchman Gael Monfils in the third round on Thursday will be a much more daunting task for the fifth-seeded Federer. Prevailing in that matchup will require the 17-time Grand Slam champion to dominate on serve.

The 32-year-old Federer was excellent on serve against Seppi in his opening match, winning 66 percent of his total service points and laying down seven aces in all.

He'll have to be even better against Monfils, who won 69 percent of his service points and blasted seven aces of his own in his second-round win over Canada's Vasek Pospisil

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Pospisil won 64 percent of his total service points and a remarkable 84 percent (36 of 43) of his first-serve points, but still wound up going down in straight sets. 

Needless to say, Federer will have to step up his service game and earn some cheap points off the serve if he hopes to reach the quarterfinals. 

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Though the Swiss legend is 6-1 against Monfils all-time, he hasn't faced the Frenchman in more than two years and lost their last hard-court meeting in Paris in 2010. Monfils won that dramatic match in three sets, with all three going to a tiebreaker. 

Federer lost that semifinal match despite winning 74 percent of his total service points and 86 percent of his first-serve points. Monfils had similar numbers, but was slightly more successful with his second serve.

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Monfils' superior athleticism was also a huge key to his success in that match and will be in Thursday's meeting as well. The 27-year-old's ability to chase down shots that should be winners and get them back over the net makes him one of the most dangerous returners in the game. 

Consequently, Monfils has slightly more room for error on serve. He has five breaks of serve through two matches in Shanghai and is certain to create a few chances against Federer on Thursday. 

A fast start will obviously be key for both players, but Federer's performance on serve and ability to find quick points with his pace and placement will determine whether he moves on or goes home.

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