Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic defends title over Juan Martin del Potro

Tennis - Djokovic prevailed over del Potro in the 2013 Shanghai final

by Jovica Ilic
Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic defends title over Juan Martin del Potro

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 title clash 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! The Serb rattled 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. He overcame the opening set loss against the Frenchman and stayed focused in the decisive moments against the Argentine to embrace the trophy and extend his winning streak.

The final lasted 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 semi-final. He did his best to match Novak's pace a day later, facing 12 break chances and fending off ten to remain in contention.

That was the only element that kept him alive, though, as Novak played better on the first and second serve. The Serb hit more winners and fewer unforced errors to emerge as deserved champion. Novak 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 Juan Martin's error and confirming the break.

Novak Djokovic prevailed over Juan Martin del Potro in Shanghai 2013.

That third game became even more significant when Novak grabbed another break a few minutes later and jumped 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 to the scoreboard. Djokovic was too good and closed the opener with a service winner for 6-1 after 34 minutes, hoping for more in the rest of the clash.

Suddenly, Juan Martin broke in the second set's second game and cemented it with an ace in the next one to 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 to the positive side. 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 before del Potro fired three winners in the next one to take the set 6-3 and force a decider. It was important for Novak to regain confidence early on in the final set, and he held 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.

Novak stayed calm and made a huge hold to keep the pressure on the other side. 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.

The Argentine served to stay in the match in game ten and faced two match points. 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.

Novak Djokovic Juan Martin Del Potro