Novak Djokovic was a player to beat in the closing stages of the 2012 season. The Serb reached the fifth consecutive ATP final in Shanghai after a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych in an hour and 26 minutes. It was Novak's 23rd Masters 1000 final, leaving Andre Agassi on 22 and chasing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who were ahead of him.
Djokovic toppled Berdych for the eighth time in a row and improved his score against the Czech to 10-1. The Serb dropped 15 points in ten service games and pushed the opponent's second serve to the limits to grab three breaks from as many chances.
Berdych stayed in touch in the shortest and most advanced rallies, and Djokovic grabbed the victory in the mid-range exchanges. The Serb hit 25 winners and 19 unforced errors and did everything right on the court to book a place in the final.
Novak held in the opening game with a forehand winner and created a break chance in game two with a volley winner. Tomas sprayed a backhand mistake to experience a break and falling behind. Djokovic fired three winners in the fifth game to open a 4-1 gap and earned another break chance in the next one with a forehand crosscourt winner.
Berdych played another loose backhand to move 5-1 behind. Novak wasted a set point in game seven with a double fault. After Novak's volley error, Tomas grabbed the second break chance to prolong the set.
Novak Djokovic reached the title clash in Shanghai 2012.
The Czech claimed the eighth game and moved 30-0 in front on the return with a powerful forehand winner.
Berdych earned a break point with a forehand winner but squandered it after a backhand error. Novak closed the set with an unreturned serve for 6-3 after 41 minutes. Djokovic moved in front with a forehand crosscourt winner in the second set's third game and held at love a few minutes later for 3-1.
Novak served well in the remaining games and sealed the deal with three winners at 5-4. Asked about the rival in the final, Djokovic did not care much if it would be Andy Murray or Roger Federer, saying he had to prepare like he always does.
"Facing a top-10 rival is never easy, and Tomas has recently been in a great form. He has powerful serve and forehand, and it's not easy to beat him on any surface. It was vital for me to move well, cover the court and extend the rallies.
I did that, and I had a higher chance to win those points than him. I played tactically right, returning many of his serves and pressuring him. I do not want to choose tomorrow's rival between Andy Murray and Roger Federer.
I will be ready, whoever is my next opponent. That's my mindset, and it's always been like that," Novak Djokovic said.