Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic downs Juan Martin del Potro to defend the crown

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Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic downs Juan Martin del Potro to defend the crown

Novak Djokovic claimed his first Shanghai Masters crown in 2012 after saving five match points against Andy Murray, prevailing in another entertaining final against Juan Martin del Potro a year later to lift the 15th Masters 1000 trophy.

After winning the Australian Open, Dubai and Monte Carlo earlier in 2013, Novak lost the Roland Garros semi-final to Nadal in an epic encounter and the Wimbledon title match to Andy Murray, suffering another Major final loss in New York where Rafa defeated him in four sets.

That would be the last loss for the Serb 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, finishing second in the standings behind Nadal.

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 two hours and 32 minutes, and Djokovic claimed a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 triumph, his tenth 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 until the tie break.

That was the only element that kept him alive, 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 just once, which cost him the second set, dominating the mid-range and longer 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 one from his forehand to move 2-0 up and make the strongest start. From 40-15 down in the third game, the defending champion blasted three winners to repel break chances, forcing an error from Juan Martin to confirm the break and gain a 3-0 lead.

That game became even more significant when he grabbed another break a few minutes later, jumping 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 that allowed him to escape a bagel, repelling another one thanks to a powerful forehand and bringing the game home to at least get his name on the scoreboard.

Djokovic was just too good, though, closing the opener with a service winner for a 6-1 after 34 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash. Suddenly, Juan Martin broke in the second game of the second set for his first lead, cementing it with an ace in the next one and already doing much more than in the entire opening set.

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

Djokovic served at under 30% in set number two and lost the 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, closing 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, making a hold with an ace at the beginning of the final set, with Juan Martin doing the same in game two to extend the battle.

A forehand down the line winner pushed Novak 2-1 up, 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 set's 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 some 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, firing 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 next point on serve and the advantage.

Djokovic painted a forehand crosscourt winner to move 4-2 up and earned three match points when Juan Martin sprayed a forehand error at 3-5. Novak converted the first with a backhand down the line winner to celebrate the title and leave Juan Martin empty-handed in his third Masters 1000 final, becoming the second defending champion in Shanghai after Andy Murray.