The iron-willed Serbian was second-best for long stretches but refused to buckle, sealing his 13th Masters title in a contest lasting three hours and 21 minutes as he hunts down Roger Federer at the top of the rankings. The thrilling duel, played out in front of a packed crowd at the Qi Zhong Stadium, hinged on a monster second set tie-break that lasted more than 20 minutes, which the second seed won to stay alive in the match.
The defeat, in a contest packed with high-quality, spellbinding tennis, was defending champion Murray’s first ever loss at the Shanghai Masters after he won the tournament in 2010 and 2011.
“Could have easily gone the other way. He was five match points up,” said Djokovic, who won the China Open before coming to Shanghai. “He was so close to the victory that I cannot say I was the better player.”
The Serbian, hot favourite to be year-end number one for the second consecutive season, said the title would give him a major boost as he closes in on the top spot, which he said was his “biggest objective”.
Murray said: “I’m obviously disappointed I lost the match. But it was a top-quality match. Both of us played some unbelievable tennis at times.”