On this day: Novak Djokovic eases past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reign in..


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On this day: Novak Djokovic eases past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reign in..

The seventh edition of the Shanghai Masters in 2015 had seen the familiar semi-final lineup, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray reaching the last four. Nonetheless, the defending champion Roger Federer failed to join them in the latter stages, suffering the second-round loss against Albert Ramos-Vinolas to pass the torch to Novak Djokovic who stood as the top favorite for the title.

That season was the most successful one in Novak's career, winning 11 crowns including three Majors and no less than six Masters 1000 titles, finishing the year with 82 wins and six defeats to leave all the rivals far behind.

Novak lost the finals of Montreal and Cincinnati against Murray and Federer but went all the way at the US Open and in Beijing where he dropped just 18 games in five matches, including a 6-2, 6-2 win over Rafael Nadal in the title match.

A week later, Novak was the dominant figure in Shanghai as well, lifting his third Masters crown at this event to become the most successful player, leaving Andy Murray on two titles. Just like in Beijing, Novak was too good on both serve and return, crumbling the rivals with the sheer power of his groundstrokes and overpowering them in every segment to sail towards the title.

Bernard Tomic was the only player who managed to stay in touch with the Serb in one set, losing the opening set tie break 8-6 before Djokovic shifted into a higher gear to wrap up the victory in under an hour and a half. In the battle of the two-time winners, Novak toppled Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3 in just 68 minutes to reach the final where he took down Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 18 minutes for his 25th Masters 1000 crown, leaving Roger Federer on 24 and trailing just two behind Rafael Nadal.

It was the 20th meeting between Novak and Jo-Wilfried and the 14th win for the Serb who served at 71% and lost only seven points behind the initial shot. Tsonga did score one break but was in all kinds of trouble every time he would have missed the first serve, facing 13 break chances and suffering four breaks to stay behind all the time.

They had a similar number of winners but Novak tamed his shots more efficiently, staying on just eight unforced errors while Tsonga hit almost 30 to plague his chances for a better result. Also, Djokovic dominated in the shortest and mid-range exchanges and outplayed Jo-Wilfried in the closing stages of the second set to secure the 17th win in a row.

Novak broke in the very first game of the match to boost confidence and closed the second game with three winners to cement his lead in front of legendary Rod Laver who was in the stands. Tsonga couldn't find his range or grab free points with his serve alone, suffering another break in the third game after a loose drop shot that refused to pass the net.

The Frenchman pulled one break in the fourth game to get his name on the scoreboard but got broken at love a few minutes later to fall 4-1 down. Serving to stay in the set at 2-5, Jo-Wilfried fended off four set points to prolong the set after a forehand down the line winner before Novak grabbed it in the next game with four winners for a 6-2 after just 30 minutes.

Tsonga saved a break opportunity in the third game of the second set with a service winner, bringing the game home with another one to stay ahead and find some rhythm unlike in the opening set. He had to dig deep in the fifth game as well, repelling two break points with a couple of winners and moving 3-2 ahead with another unreturned serve that he lacked in the previous part of the match.

On the other hand, Novak lost just one point in the opening four service games, waiting for a chance on the return that finally came at 4-4 after a risky second serve and a double fault that sealed Tsonga's fate in this encounter.

Serving for the title, Djokovic fired three winners to complete another perfect week and conquer his ninth ATP title of the season to prove his dominance over the rest of the field once again.