The world No. 6 Alexander Zverev had been having a subpar season but has been on a roll since playing alongside Roger Federer and other players at Laver Cup, following it up by reaching the semifinals of Beijing and the final of Shanghai in back-to-back weeks.
Zverev was 34-19 before Laver Cup and is 8-2 since clinching a victory for Team Europe at the recent team event.
The 22-year-old German received locker room coaching from Federer and Rafael Nadal during that win, with cameras showing Federer telling Zverev to be more positive, saying he wanted a "let's go" and "come on" after every winning point.
"I yelled at him all the way to the locker room, in the locker room and on the way back,'' Federer had recounted, adding that Zverev's win could "turn his season around."
Federer's advice may have been too good. Zverev defeated Federer in three sets at the Shanghai Masters with the more confident, aggressive play he had not revealed for much of the season, and going on and reaching the final before falling to Daniil Medvedev.
Federer did acknowledge looking back to their Laver Cup conversation during the encounter. "I mean, sometimes, you know," said Federer, speaking to press at Shanghai.
While he didn't want to take credit, he did say Zverev played the way he had urged him to do.
"I told him at the net that he showed great character, that he was strong and, I thought, he didn't show any frustrations or too much negativity,” the 38-year-old Federer said.
“I don't see much of my opponent, to be honest. I turn my back very quickly, so I see maybe 10, 20%, but I didn't see him very often being extremely frustrated except the one time when he hit three let cords in a row, the last game I think it was. That was impressive, because he has tendencies to get a bit down on himself, especially this season he hasn't been playing maybe so well, so that impressed me the most."
Zverev has said some of his problems began with an acrimonious split from his previous agent, followed by coach Ivan Lendl leaving his team. Zverev, who is still coached by his father, is now with the agency owned by Federer.
Zverev, who has won three Masters titles and the ATP Tour Finals, is among a handful of younger players now in the Top 10. That also includes Medvedev, who has won three titles in six straight finals, and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who reached the final of Beijing and semifinals of Shanghai.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who stated before the tournament that the young players were making a move, repeated that again following their runs at Shanghai.
“They're knocking on the door big time, the young guys. It's exciting,” Federer said. “Yeah, it's an exciting time in tennis.”