Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic beats Juan Martin del Potro and defends title

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Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic beats Juan Martin del Potro and defends title

Novak Djokovic claimed the first Shanghai Masters crown in 2012 after saving five match points against Andy Murray in a thrilling final. A year later, the Serb prevailed over Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 in the final to defend the crown and secure the 15th Masters 1000 trophy.

Djokovic lost the US Open final to Rafael Nadal in September, and that would be his last defeat in 2013, rattling off 24 straight wins to finish the season on a high note and conquer titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and the ATP Finals.

Novak scored three commanding victories in Shanghai before working hard against Gael Monfils and Juan Martin del Potro to go all the way and secure the title. He overcame the opening set loss against the Frenchman and stayed focused in the decisive moments against the Argentine to embrace the trophy and continue his winning streak.

The final lasted for two hours and 32 minutes, and Novak claimed the tenth victory over Juan Martin in 13 encounters. Del Potro played on a very high level against world no. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semis and did his best to match Novak's pace a day later, facing 12 break chances and fending off ten of those to remain in contention.

That was the only element that kept him alive, though, as Novak played better on both the first and second serve and hit more winners and fewer unforced errors to emerge as deserved champion. The Serb lost serve once, which cost him the second set, dominating the mid-range and most extended points to leave del Potro behind and cross the finish line first.

Djokovic held in the opening game with a service winner and fired another from his forehand to grab a break and forge an early advantage. From 40-15 down in the third game, the defending champion blasted three winners to repel break chances, forcing an error from Juan Martin and confirming the break.

In 2013, Novak Djokovic prevailed over Juan Martin del Potro to defend Shanghai crown.

That third game became even more significant when Novak grabbed another break a few minutes later and jumped into a 5-0 ahead after just 23 minutes following a service winner.

Del Potro saved a set point on serve with a much-needed forehand winner to escape a bagel, repelled another thanks to a powerful forehand and brought the game home to get his name on the scoreboard. Djokovic was too good, though, closing the opener with a service winner for 6-1 after 34 minutes and hoping for more in the rest of the clash.

Suddenly, Juan Martin broke in the second game of the second set for his first lead and cemented it with an ace in the next one to already do more than in the entire opening set. Djokovic served at under 30% in set number two and lost momentum on the return, allowing del Potro to move 4-1 ahead with three winners in game five.

Novak bounced back two games later, creating three break chances that could have brought him back on the positive side of the scoreboard. The Argentine repelled them with three winners and closed the game after Novak's backhand error to remain in front.

Djokovic held at 15 at 2-5, but del Potro was too good in those moments, blasting three winners in the next one to take the set 6-3 and force a decider. It was important for Novak to regain the confidence early on in the final set, and he made a hold with an ace in the opening game.

A forehand down the line winner in game three pushed Djokovic ahead, and he was yet to make damage on the return, as Juan Martin held with a service winner for 2-2. The Argentine claimed a 14-shot rally in the fifth game to create the first break chance with a forehand winner.

Staying calm, Novak made a huge hold to keep the pressure on the other side of the net, not having to chase the result. The encounter was becoming better and better, and Juan Martin saved two break points in the sixth game with strong hitting to level the score at 3-3 before facing two match points at 4-5.

Ready to fight until the very last point, del Potro erased those with winners to get out of jail and fired a service winner in the 12th game to set up a deciding tie break. Novak grabbed the first mini-break in the third point with an outstanding defense before losing the advantage.

Djokovic painted a forehand crosscourt winner to move 4-2 up and earned three match points when del Potro sprayed a forehand error at 3-5. Novak converted the first with a backhand down the line winner to celebrate the title and become the second defending champion in Shanghai after Andy Murray.