Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic Defends Title Over Juan Martin Del Potro

Novak Djokovic defends the title against 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 beat 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 loss in 2013! The Serb posted 24 consecutive wins to end the season on a high note and capture titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and the ATP Finals.

Novak scored three dominant wins in Shanghai before working hard against Gael Monfils and Juan Martin del Potro. He overcame the first 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 achieved the tenth victory over Juan Martín in 13 meetings. Del Potro played at 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 stay in contention.

However, that was the only element that kept him alive, as Novak played better on the first and second serves. The Serb hit more game winners and fewer unforced errors to emerge as a deserving champion. Novak lost serve once, costing him the second set, dominating the middle distance and longer points to leave del Potro behind and cross the finish line first.

Djokovic held on in the opening game with a service winner and fired another from his forehand to grab a break and carve out an early lead. Trailing 40-15 in game three, the defending champion fired three winners to repel break chances, forcing Juan Martin’s error and confirming the break.

Novak Djokovic beat 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 after a service winner.

Del Potro saved a set point on serve with a much-needed forehand to escape a bagel, repelled another thanks to a powerful forehand and brought the game home to put his name on the scoreboard. Djokovic was too good and closed out the first set with a 6-1 service winner after 34 minutes, hoping for more in the rest of the clash.

Suddenly, Juan Martin broke in the second game of the second set and cemented it with an ace in the next to do more than he had in the entire opening set. Djokovic served under 30% in set number two and lost momentum on the return, allowing del Potro to advance 4-1 with three winners in game five.

Novak bounced back two games later, creating three break chances that could have put him back on the positive side. The Argentine fended them off with three game winners and closed out the match after a Novak backhand error to stay in front.

Djokovic held on at 15 at 2-5 before del Potro fired three winners in the next to take the set 6-3 and force a decider. It was important for Novak to regain confidence early in the final set, and he held on with an ace in the opening game.

A forehand down the line winner in game three pushed Djokovic ahead, and he still hadn’t done any damage on the return as Juan Martin held with a service winner for 2-2. The Argentine claimed a 14-shot rally in game five to create the first break chance with a forehand winner.

Novak kept his cool and made a big hold to keep the pressure on the other side. The match was getting better and better, and Juan Martin saved two break points in the sixth game with a strong strike 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 to the last point, del Potro erased winners to get out of jail and fired a service winner in game 12 to set up a decisive tie break.

Novak grabbed the first mini-break on the third point with outstanding defense before losing the lead. Djokovic painted a forehand crosscourt winner to advance 4-2 and earned three match points when Del Potro made a forehand error at 3-5.

Novak converted the first with a backhand down the line winner to celebrate the title and become only the second defending champion in Shanghai after Andy Murray.

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