Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic wins epic final over Andy Murray

Novak Djokovic saved five match points versus Andy Murray in the 2012 Shanghai final

by Jovica Ilic
Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic wins epic final over Andy Murray
© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray played in an epic final in Shanghai 2012. Seeking his first Shanghai Masters crown, Novak ousted a two-time defending champion 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 in three hours and 21 minutes, fending off five match points and prevailing after a thriller!

Thus, Djokovic added the seventh different Masters 1000 trophy to his collection at only 25. An in-form Serb secured his 44th victory from the previous 51 encounters, staying calm and performing one of his finest comebacks.

Djokovic produced high-quality tennis at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center, losing serve thrice against Grigor Dimitrov, Feliciano Lopez, Tommy Haas and Tomas Berdych and beating them in under an hour and a half. Murray extended his perfect run in Shanghai, beating three rivals and missing a massive chance for a three-peat.

Novak and Andy battled for the 16th time, and the Serb grabbed his ninth victory over the Briton. Murray converted five out of six break points, which would have been enough against any other rival. However, it was not enough to carry him home after getting broken six times from 13 chances offered to Novak.

The Briton did not make that extra step, failing to convert his opportunities while chasing his third consecutive Shanghai crown. The crowd enjoyed an entertaining battle between two marvelous players who pushed each other to the limits from the baseline in many challenging rallies that lasted over ten shots.

They had a similar number of winners, and Andy made too many unforced errors, unable to tame his strokes like he did against Roger Federer and David Ferrer in the previous finals. Nothing could separate them in the shortest exchanges.

Novak created a small gap in the mid-range and long rallies, winning six points more and showing the spirit of a true champion after repelling all those match points. Djokovic moved ahead in the encounter's game two after Murray's backhand error.

The Briton pulled it back immediately after forcing the Serb's error in the next one. Andy held after deuce to level the score at 2-2 before firing a forehand winner for another break and a 3-2 advantage.

Novak Djokovic saved five match points against Andy Murray in Shanghai 2012.

They were back at 3-3 when Murray netted a routine backhand in game six.

They completed just six games in 40 minutes, carving the path for a marathon like in New York. A new break was approaching in game seven, and Murray grabbed it after Djokovic's loose forehand. The Serb broke back a few minutes later after the fourth straight poor service game on both sides!

The pivotal moment of the set occurred at 5-5 when Djokovic squandered a 40-0 lead. The Serb lost five points in a row to fall 6-5 behind after a loose volley, giving Andy a chance to serve for the opener. Murray delivered a nice hold and grabbed the set 7-5 after 73 minutes of a grueling and intense battle of the highest order that would continue in set number two.

They both served well in the first six games, and Murray created two break chances at 3-3 following Djokovic's backhand mistake. The first was enough to send the Briton 4-3 up, building the advantage and putting one hand on the trophy after a service winner in the next one.

Serving for the third straight Shanghai title in the tenth game, Andy wasted a match point after Novak's forehand winner. Murray sprayed a forehand error to hand the game to his rival, who leveled the score at 5-5 and extended his chances.

After two good holds on each side, the set went into a tie break. Andy opened a 6-4 advantage with two more match points up for grabs. Novak repelled them with winners and did the same at 7-8, denying Murray's fourth chance to emerge at the top.

Andy had his fifth and last match point at 10-9. Novak remained focused and repelled it, staying alive before finally stealing the set with a forehand drive volley winner in the 24th point. Thus, after almost an hour and a half, he arranged a decider and gained a massive boost.

Andy saved a break chance in the final set's game five to stay on the positive side after precisely three hours of play, eager to maintain his perfect Shanghai record. Still, Murray netted a forehand the next time he served, losing serve and propelling Djokovic 4-3 ahead.

The Serb held in game eight with an ace, increasing the advantage and moving closer to the top. Novak broke Andy again in the ninth game following the Briton's backhand error, celebrating the title and performing one of his career-best escapes.

Novak Djokovic Andy Murray