ATP Shanghai Masters: Novak Djokovic beats Juan Martin del Potro in a thriller
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 13/10/13 6:13pm
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 an epic 6-1 3-6 7-6 (3) victory after two hours and 32 minutes of action at the Qizhong Tennis Center.
Top-seeded 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 No 2 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.
Rhythm and range
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.
"It's a really bad loss for me now. I was really close to beating him (Djokovic) after beating Nadal."
Juan Martin del Potro
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 6ft 6in Del Potro was disappointed to see his eight-match winning streak come to an end but found kind words for his opponent.
"The match was really close and I think Nole (Djokovic) played some unbelievable points in the tie-break," he told the official ATP World Tour website.
"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."