Novak Djokovic retains Shanghai Masters title
Serb extends unbeaten run to 20 matches with win over Juan Martin del Potro in China
Novak Djokovic of Serbia with the winner’s trophy after defeating Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina at the Shanghai Masters at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina was beaten in three sets by Novak Djokovic. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters
Novak Djokovic overcame Juan Martin del Potro to claim back-to-back Shanghai Masters titles and stretch his unbeaten run in China to 20 matches.
The Serb sealed a 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-3) victory after two hours and 32 minutes of action at the Qizhong Tennis Centre.
Djokovic made a perfect start by breaking his opponent’s opening service game with his serve-forehand combination doing much of the damage to quickly move 3-0 up.
The six-time Grand Slam champion broke once again in the next game after some more ferocious deep, punishing groundstrokes on the fast hard court.
Del Potro, who was coming off a win at the Japan Open that returned him to the top five in the rankings for the first time in three years, received warm applause after fending off two set points before holding serve for the first time in the match and avoiding the dreaded ‘bagel’.
However, the world number two served it out following his third set point chance, firing 13 winners and winning 78 per cent of his first serve points in 34 minutes.
The giant Argentine, who qualified for next month’s World Tour Finals in London with his semi-final success against Rafael Nadal, found his rhythm and range at the start of the next set and raced into a 3-0 lead.
The 26-year-old Serb had to be diligent and vigilant in dealing with the Argentine’s trademark forehands, which were hitting the sweet spot, while he was losing his footing and initiative.
Sixth-seeded del Potro held from a seemingly impossible situation at 0-40 to move 5-2 up and he restored parity in the match after serving out the set in style.
In a finely poised and highly compelling encounter, del Potro was forced to call upon all his reserves to save two break points in the sixth game of the third set as play continued to go with serve.
At 5-4, Djokovic made his move by opening up two match points, but once again the 2009 US Open champion shut the door before sending it into a deciding set tie-break.
A 24-shot rally ended with a fabulous forehand winner from Djokovic, who moved 4-2 up, and he showed great athleticism to run away with the match against a fatigued del Potro, who is still searching for his first Masters title.
“The match was really close and I think Nole (Djokovic) played some unbelievable points in the tie-break,” said the Argentinian. “The match was so exciting. At Wimbledon we played another fantastic match against each other. It’s a really bad loss for me now. I was really close to beating him after beating Nadal.”