Is there now another must-see rivalry in men’s tennis? After a second straight epic finale, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are making a very strong case. Today, Djokovic nudged past Murray 5-7, 7-6 (11), 6-3 to capture his first Shanghai Masters 1000 title and extend his points lead in the 2012 ranking race.
“It’s difficult to judge who was better because it was so close throughout the whole match,” said Djokovic after the 3-hour, 21-minute win, the longest 3-set final of the year. “We had so many rallies in three and a half hours; for a best-of-three set match it is a very long time. Could have easily gone the other way. He was five match points up. When I faced those match points, I tried to focus on each individually. He was so close to the victory that I cannot say I was the better player.”
Djokovic’s chances for the title looked bleak as Murray jumped out to a set and a break lead – Novak obliterated a racquet after losing the break at 5-5 in the first set. Just two points from defeat, Novak’s day wasn’t done saving the match with a clutch tweener to break back for 5-5. As Murray began to tighten the World No. 2 dug even deeper to get back on serve and force a second set breaker. Murray held not one but FIVE match points during the 21-minute cliffhanger, yet couldn’t convert prompting the Scot to smash his own racquet after Novak took it 13-11.
With momentum now on Novak’s side, the Serb grabbed a break in the seventh game and then hung on for win.
The Shanghai title gives Djokovic seven different Masters 1000 titles, more than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal’s six. The title was also his 33rd of his career (13th Masters 1000), 5th of 2012 and the victory over Murray gives him an ATP-leading 70 match wins on the season.
After losing a 5-set thriller in New York, Djokovic now pushes ahead 9-7 over Murray in the growing series between childhood rivals.
In the No. 1 race, with Federer losing in the semifinals yesterday, Djokovic extends his 2012 points lead over the Swiss to 2,155 ranking points with just three events left on the season for Roger.
“I’m trying to focus now on the end of the season,” said Djokovic. “I need to play well indoors. I need to try to stay consistent with my results and eventually get a shot at No. 1 of the world. It’s my biggest objective in this moment. It’s something I’m aiming for. Obviously this is going to be a huge confidence boost and is going to help me in the race for No. 1. As I said, it’s still not done. I still have to play well indoors.”
Murray, who was 12-0 at the tournament with titles the last two years, has lost his last two matches – Milos Raonic at Tokyo last weekend and now today – after holding matchpoints.
“It was a disappointing one to lose,” said Murray. “I’ve lost tougher matches than that before in the biggest events. So I’m sure I’ll recover from it pretty well.
“It’s not like I threw the match away. I didn’t make any real glaring errors or anything. When I had my chances, he just served very well and hit a couple of lines when he needed to.”
Djokovic, who has won 10 straight matches (16 of last 17), will now have two weeks off before returning for the Paris Masters while Murray joins Federer next week in Basel.
Andy Murray’s post match interview:
Novak Djokovic’s post match interview:
Djokovic’s tweener 2 points from losing:
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