Novak Djokovic claimed his fourth Shanghai Masters title as he cruised to a commanding 6-3 6-4 win over Croatia’s Borna Coric in China yesterday.
Djokovic was at his imperious best as he rallied to break for a 4-2 lead as a handful of errors from Coric conceded the first set.
The grandeur of the occasion disrupted Coric’s performance with an early break in the second set but the 21-year-old, who was competing in his first Masters final, saved three championship points before Djokovic served out the victory in one hour and 36 minutes. Djokovic, who is the only player to lift all nine Masters titles, will overtake Roger Federer to take the number two spot in the ATP rankings, while Coric will enter the top 15 for the first time in his career today.
“I have been playing really well in China throughout my career in general,” said Djokovic.
“Back in 2008, I won my first Masters Cup and that opened a lot of doors for me to get me where I am today, so Shanghai is a special place for me.
“It was a tough match today, but Borna showed that we are definitely going to see a lot of tennis from him in the future at this level. I wish him all the best.”
The 31-year-old Serb stretches his unbeaten run to 18 matches since winning the Wimbledon and US Open grand slam titles this year.
“The last four months have been tremendous,” said Djokovic.
“I’m very happy and grateful to make so many great results all over the world. I’m cherishing every moment.”
Djokovic has hit the ground running in Shanghai this week and after he reached a career milestone of 1000 senior matches on Friday, the showpiece final began in the same way.
He rallied to the first break for a 4-2 lead after he stayed patient behind his baseline and watched Coric’s return land long.
The three-time Shanghai champion opened up the first set point with a forehand winner before Coric misfired a brutal Djokovic service to drop the first set.
“I have to congratulate Novak,” said Coric. “He was on a whole other level today. It was not fun for me, to be honest, but he is one of the best in the history of tennis.”
Coric crumbled under pressure early in the second set when the young Croat hit a simple volley way out of bounds as he fell further behind with a break giving Djokovic a 2-0 cushion.
Djokovic’s serve had not been broken all week, but Coric had a chance to stay in the match when the 14-time grand slam champion netted a return to unlock a single break point.
However, after a backhand from Coric sailed wide, Djokovic escaped with an ace followed by another overwhelming delivery.
At 5-3 down in the ninth game, Coric showed great fight and resistance to save three championship points, with Djokovic missing an overhead smash on the third opportunity.
But Djokovic, who lost only nine points on his serve for the entire match, eventually prevailed when a Hawk-Eye challenge on a Coric baseline return was confirmed as out.
The new world number two raised his arms and pumped his fists in celebration after winning his 32nd Masters title.
Djokovic is now one more Masters title away from equalling the all-time record of 33 wins, set by current world number one Rafael Nadal. DPA