Novak Djokovic overcame a fierce challenge from Juan Martin del Potro yesterday to defend his Shanghai Masters title with a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3) victory, improving his phenomenal winning streak in China to 20 matches.
The Serbian top seed looked set to wrap up the final in quick time after a one-sided first set — but the Argentine, who conquered Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, hit back hard to take the match into a third set tie-break.
Djokovic held his nerve in the shoot-out to win a gripping contest lasting more than two-and-a-half hours for his fifth title of the season. The victory keeps alive his slim chances of overtaking Nadal in the battle for the year-end No 1 ranking.
“It was a great experience again in Shanghai with a thrilling performance from both my opponent and myself,” said Djokovic, who struck 47 winners in total and was particularly impressive at the net, winning 18 of 19 points.
“I think the tournament had a fantastic final. I’m just very glad to go out as a winner from the court tonight from such a close match. I think either one of us could really take the title.
I just managed to hold my emotions and I managed to believe in the victory enough in the end to play the right shots at the right time,” added the Serb, who also won last week’s China Open in Beijing.
“The match was really close and I think Nole played unbelievable points in the tie-break,” said Del Potro, who added that poor serving was partly to blame for his slow start.