Like in the previous three seasons, two Masters 1000 events were reserved for Andy Murray in 2011, going all the way at the fastest outdoor hard tournaments in Cincinnati and Shanghai to increase his tally to eight Masters 1000 trophies, becoming the seventh player with so many titles.
It was another consistent year for the Briton, reaching the final at the Australian Open and the semis at three other Majors, winning the first title at Queen's and repeating that in Cincinnati, Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai, where he defended the title.
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were not in Shanghai that year, and with Rafael Nadal failing to reach the quarter-final for the second year in a row, it left the door wide open for Andy Murray and David Ferrer to set the final meeting.
Murray prevailed 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 46 minutes to extend his Shanghai reign. Andy had to play just four matches en route to the title, with Dmitry Tursunov giving him a walkover in the second round, and the only player who took a set against him was Wawrinka in the third round.
Matthew Ebden and Kei Nishikori were not on Andy's level, allowing him to enter the final clash fresh and rested, earning the fifth victory over Ferrer in eight encounters and the fourth in a row, all on hard courts.
The Briton was the dominant figure behind the first serve, and despite problems on the second, he had to play against only four break chances, giving serve away twice to keep the pressure on the Spaniard. It was the third Masters 1000 final for Ferrer, who failed to find the first serve or the way to outplay Andy, serving at only 44% and dropping almost half of the points in his games to get broken four times from nine opportunities offered to Murray.
Andy had more winners and fewer unforced errors, overpowering David in both the shortest and more extended rallies to deliver the title in straight sets. Two fine baseliners were off to a grueling battle from the first point, and it was Murray who grabbed a break after ten minutes and five deuces to move ahead when Ferrer sent a forehand long.
David responded with a break of his own in the next game following a loose backhand from Andy, holding at 15 with a forehand drive winner that pushed him 2-1 up. Murray fired three service winners in the fourth game and held at love at 2-3 to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Both players served well in the following games, and the crucial moment occurred in the 11th game when Andy grabbed four points in a row to score a break after a very costly double fault from Ferrer. Murray blasted two aces to clinch the opener 7-5 after 55 minutes, gaining a massive boost ahead of the rest of the clash.
Things went from bad to worse for the Spaniard, who sprayed a forehand error to suffer a break at the beginning of the second set, drifting further and further away from the first Masters 1000 crown. Like in the opening set, Murray couldn't stay in front for too long, missing a routine forehand to get broken in the second game and bringing David back into contention.
Nonetheless, a beautiful forehand lob winner propelled Andy 2-1 in front for another break, confirming it with a service winner to cement the lead and move closer to the finish line. Murray was flying over the court now, earning another break point with a backhand winner in the fifth game that could have crashed Ferrer's resistance.
David saved it with a good serve and hit a smash winner to repel another one, bringing the game home to keep his chances of winning the title alive. After a fantastic point in the sixth game, Andy held at love, and David showed his skills as well in the game that followed.
He fended off a break opportunity with a magical backhand crosscourt winner, surviving another challenging game to remain within one break deficit. Murray made another comfortable hold with a smash winner in the eighth game and served for the title at 5-4 after Ferrer's good service game.
A service winner and a forced error were enough for the Briton to cross the finish line and celebrate his second consecutive Shanghai crown, mighty relieved after bringing the encounter home without a further struggle against such a persistent opponent.