Nikolay Davydenko had won the inaugural Shanghai Masters title in 2009 and it was all about Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray after that, claiming six of the next seven titles to stand as the most successful players at this Masters 1000 event with three titles for each.
Andy had lifted the trophy in 2010 and 201, bouncing back in 2016 again to claim the third crown, defeating the first-time Masters 1000 finalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 6-1 in an hour and 37 minutes. Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka were defeated before the quarter-final stage and it should have been the battle between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, just like in the entire 2016 season.
Novak had a great lead over Murray after winning the Roland Garros but Andy was the player to beat in the second part of the season, conquering nine tournaments overall and finishing the year with 24 straight wins to overcome Novak and finish the season as the year-end number 1 player.
After three commanding wins, Murray got broken four times against Gilles Simon in the semi-final but he still closed the match in straight sets after a great performance on the return, and he had an open way towards the title when Roberto Bautista Agut stunned Djokovic 6-4 6-4 in the semi-final.
This was their third meeting and the third win for Andy who managed to break rival's resistance in the second set to sail towards the title, his 13th at Masters 1000 level. The Briton served at only 52% but he kept his second serve safe, losing serve twice and stealing rival's serve on four occasions to emerge as a winner after a tight opener.
Murray tamed his shots in a more efficient way, hitting more winners and a fewer number of unforced errors, and he also dominated in the shortest and mid-range rallies to seal the deal in straight sets. Bautista Agut stayed in touch in the longest points and despite a great effort in the opener he failed to deliver his best tennis in the breaker, which turned out to be the pivotal moment of the entire match.
We saw six straight holds without break points at the start of the match and Andy broke in game seven to move ahead after a backhand error from his rival. The Briton held after a service winner in the next game to increase his lead to 5-3 and he had three set points on serve in the 10th game to bring the opener home.
Bautista Agut fends them off and he broke back with a forehand winner to level the score at 5-5 and prolong the set. Carried by this momentum, the Spaniard fired another forehand winner in game 11 to move ahead, forcing Andy to serve for staying in the set.
In a manner of a true champion, Murray fired four winners for a hold and he grabbed seven straight points in the tie break to seal it with a return winner after a grueling 64 minutes. Andy held at the start of the second set with an ace and he broke Bautista Agut at love in game two after a backhand error from the Spaniard.
Nonetheless, Andy sprayed a forehand error in the third game to lose serve but he was back in front a few minutes later after a double fault from Roberto. Murray moved 4-1 ahead with a service winner and he secured the win with another break in game six that sent him a game away from the title.
He was over the finish line after a smash winner in the seventh game, celebrating his third Shanghai crown and clinching the 54th win in the last 59th matches and closing the gap to Novak Djokovic in the battle for the ATP throne.
Results from the quarter-final stage: