Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic wins title and passes Roger Federer

The seventh edition of the Shanghai Masters in 2015 saw the familiar semi-final lineup, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray reaching the last four. The defending champion Roger Federer failed to join them after suffering the second-round loss to Albert Ramos-Vinolas. That season was the most successful one in Novak’s career, winning 11 crowns, including three Majors and no less than six Masters 1000 titles, and finishing the year with 82 wins and six defeats. Novak lost Montreal and Cincinnati’s finals against Murray and Federer but went all the way at the US Open and in Beijing, where he dismantled Rafael Nadal.

A week later, Novak had the upper hand in Shanghai, lifting his third crown to become the most successful player at this event, leaving Andy Murray on two titles. Novak toppled Andy 6-1, 6-3 in just 68 minutes to reach the final, where he faced Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Serb scored a 6-2, 6-4 win over the Frenchman in an hour and 18 minutes for his 25th Masters 1000 crown, leaving Roger Federer on 24 and trailing just two behind Rafael Nadal. It was the 20th meeting between Novak and Jo-Wilfried and the 14th win for the Serb, who served at 71% and lost only seven points behind the initial shot. Tsonga did score one break but was in all kinds of trouble every time he would miss the first serve, facing 13 break chances and suffering four breaks to stay behind all the time.

In 2015, Novak Djokovic won the third Shanghai crown in the last four seasons.

They had a similar number of winners, and Novak tamed his shots more efficiently, counting to eight unforced errors while Jo-Wilfried hit almost 30 to spoil his chances for a better result. Also, Djokovic dominated the shortest and mid-range exchanges and outplayed Tsonga in the second set’s closing stages to secure the 17th victory in a row. Novak broke in the encounter’s first game to boost confidence and closed the second game with three winners to cement his lead in front of legendary Rod Laver, who was in the stands. Tsonga could not find his range or grab free points with serve alone, suffering another break in the third game after a loose drop shot that refused to pass the net. The Frenchman pulled one break in the fourth game to get his name on the scoreboard but got broken at love a few minutes later to fall 4-1 down.

Serving to stay in the set at 2-5, Jo-Wilfried fended off four set points to prolong the action after a forehand down the line winner before Novak secured it in the next game with four winners for 6-2 after just 30 minutes. Tsonga saved a break opportunity in the second set’s third game with a service winner and brought it home with another to stay ahead and find some rhythm, unlike the opening set. He had to dig deep in the fifth game, repelling two break points with a couple of winners and moving 3-2 ahead with another unreturned serve that he lacked in the match’s first part. On the other hand, Novak lost just one point in the opening four service games, waiting for a chance on the return that finally came at 4-4 after a risky second serve and a double fault that sealed Tsonga’s fate. Serving for the trophy, Djokovic fired three winners to complete another perfect week and conquer his ninth ATP title of the season.

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