Federer, Djokovic pay tribute to 'super inspiring' Nadal

Roger Federer hailed old rival Rafael Nadal as “super inspiring” after the world No.1 joined in the clean-up operation after flash floods killed 12 people on the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca.

Spanish tennis star Nadal, 32, was pictured wearing boots and white gloves, mopping up the floor of a warehouse on Wednesday on the island where he lives.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, currently sidelined through injury, has also offered to open up his sports centre and tennis academy to people made homeless by the floods.

“I know how important Mallorca is to Rafa and I have been in touch with him to see if I can help with anything,” Federer said in a video message recorded in Shanghai where he is currently competing.

“I have seen him helping in the village where he comes from and to see that is super inspiring. Rafa, you have our support.

Away from the tennis tour after a knee injury, Rafael Nadal drove 12km from his home to help with the recovery efforts. Pic: AP

“We are thinking of all the people in Mallorca. We wish you strength in these difficult times and I hope to be back on Mallorca soon.”

Fellow rival Novak Djokovic, also taking part in Shanghai, said he hoped Nadal’s efforts would inspire others.

“A big hug and friendly regards to Rafa and well done amigo for helping out,” said the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion.

“I invite anyone to give their support in anyway they can. Gracias.”

Federer overcomes Spanish challenge in Shanghai

Roger Federer said that 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 eventually 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.

Roger Federer overcame a Spanish challenge to win in Shanghai. Pic: Getty

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,” he said.

One player who will not be in the quarter-finals is Juan Martin del Potro after he hobbled out of the tournament.

The Argentine world number four, who had already been suffering with a virus, lost his footing at 5-5 in the first set against Croatia’s Borna Coric.

The 30-year-old Del Potro had lengthy treatment and strapping put on his knee, but conceded the match after losing the first set 7-5.

Coric, the 13th seed, faces Australia’s unseeded Matthew Ebden next

Second seed Djokovic enjoyed a measure of revenge as he booked his spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-0 demolition of Marco Cecchinato.

The Serbian was stunned by the Italian — ranked 72 in the world at the time — in the French Open quarter-finals earlier this year.

It was part of a wretched run of form Djokovic suffered after elbow surgery in February.

But he exploded back to life mid-season, winning Wimbledon, the Cincinnati Masters and US Open.

The 31-year-old says he is back close to the kind of blistering form that has brought him 14 Grand Slams.

Djokovic will play South Africa’s seventh seed Kevin Anderson and said he was arrowing in on Rafael Nadal’s top ranking. The Spaniard is not in Shanghai due to injury.

“Obviously, I’m going to try to do everything I can to get to number one,” said Djokovic.

“That’s one of the — probably the — biggest goal of the end of the season.”

Rising star Zverev was similarly emphatic as he brushed aside Australian teenager Alex de Minaur, 6-1, 6-4. The German fourth seed will next play 11th seed Kyle Edmund.