Competing at the Masters Cup in Shanghai for the second straight year, Novak Djokovic defeated Juan Martin del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko to secure the semi-final berth. In the last round-robin encounter, Novak lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 39 minutes, suffering his third loss to the Frenchman on an indoor court that fall.
Seeking the first victory of the competition, the Frenchman raised his level in the second set and fired 32 winners and 26 unforced errors to overpower Djokovic with three breaks of serve. Djokovic held in the opening game with a smash winner and made an instant break in game two for an early advantage.
World no. 3 saved a break point in the third game with an ace and fired an unreturned serve to open a 3-0 gap. In the fifth game, the Serb unleashed another powerful serve to maintain the advantage, broke again in game six and closed the opener with a backhand down the line winner at 5-1 after swift 25 minutes.
Novak Djokovic won the Masters Cup 2008, with a girlfriend Jelena supporting him.
In one of the pivotal moments, Tsonga defended two break chances at 2-2 in set number two and brought the game home with an ace for a massive boost.
Experiencing no troubles on serve so far, Novak played a terrible service game at 5-6 to suffer a break and hand the set to his opponent. Losing ground completely, Djokovic suffered a break in the final set's second game and squandered a break chance in the next one to find himself 3-0 down.
Jo-Wilfried broke at love at 4-1 with a forehand winner and sealed the deal with a lob winner in game seven, rattling off the last nine points to cross the finish line in style. Asked about a girl in his box, Novak joked and introduced Jelena as a Miss Universe of 2006.
"Tsonga defeated me three times in a row because he was a better player. My main goal was to reach the semi-final, and I'm happy to achieve that. I wanted to win this one, but he played on a high level, especially in the third.
Also, I made some unforced errors. I have to remain positive despite the loss, as I played good tennis for a set and a half. Tsonga defended a couple of break chances and gained momentum. He had bigger support than me, and I do not blame the crowd; he is an exciting player to watch and very emotional.
He deserved to beat me today. I'm now turning my focus to the semi-final. The girl who sat beside my coach is a Miss Universe of 2006. Roger is still among the world's best players, even though he was not at his best this year.
Murray, Tsonga and del Potro should challenge us at the top in the following year, and it should be exciting," Novak Djokovic said.