Success keeps coming for Novak Djokovic, who continues what has to be one of, if not the most drastic turn-around seasons in Open Era history.
Djokovic through the first half of the year didn’t reach a semifinal until Rome in May, and lost first round in Indian Wells and Miami, and prior to the quarterfinals at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. After breaking through for his first title of the year at Wimbledon, the Serb hasn’t looked back, and is now in the race to dethrone Rafael Nadal for the year-end No. 1 ranking.
On Sunday Djokovic won a record fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters title, in the final beating upstart and No. 13 seed Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4.
He has now won 18 straight matches, including the titles at Cincinnati and the US Open.
“Obviously the last three, four months have been terrific for me,” Djokovic said. “Not many holes in the game in general, especially this week. Everything worked perfectly.”
He is now 35 points behind Nadal, who is struggling to come off the sidelines after suffering a knee injury at the US Open.
Djokovic did not lose his serve all week (47 of 47) and improved to 27-1 since the start of Wimbledon losing only to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Canada.
“This was definitely one of the best service weeks that I’ve had in my career,” Djokovic said. “I was saying before that I have never played on faster courts here in Shanghai, so this year more than ever I needed a lot of success with the first serves in, and I have had plenty of success with first serves and high percent of first serves in every match. So obviously that brings me a lot of joy.”
He will move to No. 2 on the ATP rankings Monday, displacing Roger Federer who fell to Coric in the semifinals.
“I thought I was actually playing really well,” said Coric. “I’m feeling good on the court. I was not serving particularly well, but that’s also because I think he was returning extremely well. So I was going for a little bit more. I’m just happy with the whole week. I think it was a really good week for me, from basically me thinking on Monday morning I’m going to fly out on Monday evening after my first match [against Stan Wawrinka] to playing my first Masters 1000 final. It’s awesome. I need to take only positives from this week.”
Djokovic improved to 4-1 in finals this year and 72-31 career (11-0 in China). And Shanghai was his 32nd career Masters final. The 21-year-old Coric, who won the Halle title on grass earlier this year, fell to 2-3 in career finals. He was trying to beat Federer and Djokovic back-to-back.
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