Shanghai Flashback: Roberto Bautista Agut dethrones Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic lost in the 2016 Shanghai Masters semi-final

by Jovica Ilic
Shanghai Flashback: Roberto Bautista Agut dethrones Novak Djokovic
© Lintao Zhang / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic claimed three Shanghai Masters titles between 2012 and 2015. The Serb failed to extend the winning run in 2016, falling to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 48 minutes in the semi-final. Thus, the Spaniard reached his first Masters 1000 final at 28, dethroning the world's best player.

It was their sixth meeting and the first victory for the Spaniard, who overpowered the Serb in the pivotal moments. Roberto fended off seven out of nine break points, seven in the final two games alone. He produced brave and aggressive tennis to keep his serve intact until the second set's second part.

The closing stages brought real drama, with five breaks in a row and some thrilling points. The Spaniard held his nerves to convert the fourth match point and seal the deal. Novak served at 66%, but like against Zverev, it only brought him a little, with no free points or easy serve & groundstrokes combinations.

Roberto Bautista Agut toppled Novak Djokovic in straight sets in Shanghai 2016.

Bautista Agut returned well, winning 41% of the points on Djokovic's serve and securing four breaks from five opportunities. Bautista Agut had 17 winners and 26 unforced errors, staying aggressive and keeping the points on his racquet.

That was illustrated in the shortest points. Roberto won 42 and Novak "only" 33, with the Spaniard following the Serb's pace in the mid-range exchanges to earn the triumph. Novak had a 16-9 advantage in the longest points, which was insufficient to make a big difference.

The first set was tight, and both players raced through the opening eight games with no troubles on serve. The ninth game could have been crucial for the overall outcome, as Novak created two break chances and had a colossal opportunity to convert the second.

He played a poor shot at the net and got passed by Bautista Agut, who held and stayed in front. Novak was a better player on the court. Still, that all changed in game ten when he served to stay in the set. Roberto broke him on his first break chance to steal the opener 6-4 and gain a boost.

The level of tennis remained high in the first part of the second set, with nothing separating the two rivals in the first five games. The result went back and forth after that, with five straight breaks that came out of nowhere.

The Spaniard broke in game six for a 4-2 lead, but Novak finally showed some of his return skills, breaking back in the next one. Djokovic had two game points in game eight, looking good to level the score at 4-4. Instead, Roberto found a way to break him and move 5-3 in front, serving for the victory in game nine.

It produced the ultimate drama, with six deuces and three match points for the Spaniard. His nerves were getting up to him, missing a lot of first serves and failing to punch that final stroke. Novak saved three match points before converting the fourth break chance, staying alive and serving for 5-5.

It was not to be for the Serb, suffering another break and sending Bautista Agut into his first Masters 1000 final.

Roberto Bautista Agut Novak Djokovic Shanghai Masters