Shanghai Masters: Fluent Novak Djokovic maintains his Chinese mastery

Serb does Beijing-Shanghai double for second year and thanks crowd in Mandarin

There were times here yesterday when Novak Djokovic’s love affair with China appeared to be turning sour, but at the end of the Shanghai Rolex Masters the romance was back on.

Although Djokovic did not appear impressed when the crowd at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre briefly transferred their affections to his opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 triumph earned the 26-year-old Serb his seventh title in China, more than in any other country.

Djokovic won his 20th successive match in China – for the second year in a row he has completed the Beijing-Shanghai double – only after Del Potro had made a spirited comeback, the world No 5 having been comprehensively outplayed in the first set.

For a while it had seemed that Del Potro was struggling to recover from his semi-final victory over Rafael Nadal the previous evening, but the 25-year-old Argentine brought the crowd to life with his response. He levelled the match by taking the second set, and repeatedly dug himself out of trouble in the decider.

Djokovic, who kicked an advertising hoarding in anger at missing one opportunity, appeared to be frustrated by the crowd’s support for Del Potro, but the world No 2’s relentless pressure told in the end. Del Potro saved two match points with some bold serving at 4-5 and forced a tie-break, which Djokovic won 7-3, having turned the contest decisively by going 4-2 up after a superbly constructed 24-stroke rally.

After the match Djokovic signed two words in Chinese script, “love” and “smile”, on the camera lens. “I love you guys. Thank you for all your support,” he told a delighted crowd in Mandarin at the presentation.

The 39th title of Djokovic’s career and his 15th in the Masters Series shows that the Serb will go all out to reclaim the world No 1 ranking he lost to Nadal the previous weekend. It also extended the remarkable domination of the “Big Four”: Djokovic, Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer have won 31 of the last 33 Masters Series titles.

“I think the tournament had a fantastic final,” said Djokovic later. “I’m just very glad to win after such a close match. I think either one of us could really have taken the title. I just managed to hold my emotions and I managed to believe in the victory enough to play the right shots at the right time.”

This was Del Potro’s third defeat in three Masters Series finals, but the 2009 US Open champion is happy with his form. He won the Japan Open title eight days ago and his run to the final here secured his place in next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

“I think I’m playing even better than 2009 or 2008 or last year,” Del Potro said. “I’ve done good things this year. I couldn’t win a Grand Slam like I did in 2009, but I’ve reached two Masters 1000 finals and I’ve won three tournaments. I’ve beaten the top guys, which is fantastic for me.”

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London