Novak Djokovic avenged his US Open defeat to beat Andy Murray, saving five match points to seal a stunning 5-7, 7-6 (13/11), 6-3 victory in the Shanghai Masters final.
The iron-willed second seed, 25, came out on top in a marathon match lasting three hours and 21 minutes.
“It was a thrilling match, and a very long one,” said Djokovic. More than three hours for best of three is quite long. But I have got used
A gruelling first set contained seven breaks of serve as the players went toe-to-toe in a breathtaking display of power hitting, with neither able to grab the initiative.
But third-seed Murray made what proved to be the crucial breakthrough in the 11th game, breaking for a 6-5 lead as an infuriated Djokovic destroyed his racquet, tossing it away in disgust.
It was a different story in the second set, with both players secure on serve until defending champion Murray broke in the seventh game to lead 4-3 when Djokovic put a volley into the net.
But agonisingly for Murray, Djokovic, refusing to be beaten, saved a match point to pull level at 5-5 and the set went into the dramatic tie-break.
Two breaks in the decider were enough for Djokovic to claim victory.
“I could not say I dominated the match,” said the Serb. “All three sets were very close and he had some match points and opportunities to finish the match.
“I could have easily been a runner-up today but I’m very proud of my fight.”
Paes, Stepanek claim doubles title
Australian Open champions Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic came from behind to win the doubles title 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 10/5.
The fourth seeds, who have already booked a place at next month’s elite eight-team ATP World Tour Finals in London, lost the first set against Indian pair Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna on a tie-break.
But the Indian-Czech duo, who were losing finalists at the US Open, levelled the contest after a single break in the second set and took the match tie-break 10/5.
Indian veteran Paes, 39, said he was at the stage of his career when he was ‘playing for milestones, playing for history’.
“We’ve had a great year,” said Paes. “It started off with a big bang. To do well early in a partnership is something that can happen.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2012.