Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic beats Borna Coric and wins title

Twenty-four hours after demolishing Alexander Zverev in his 1000th ATP match in Shanghai 2018, Novak Djokovic claimed the 32nd Masters 1000 crown. Novak toppled the 13th seed Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 36 minutes for another notable result and a big step forward in the year-end no. 1 battle with Rafael Nadal. It was the 45th victory for Novak in 2018 and the 39th in the last 43 encounters after Madrid in May, raising his level to dominate like in 2015 and the first part of 2016. It was the 18th win in a row for the Serb, who claimed Cincinnati and the US Open crowns before heading to Shanghai. Novak secured the record-breaking fourth Shanghai crown, extending his dominance in China, where he had won 61 of the last 65 matches since 2009! It was the 400th Masters 1000 match for Novak and the 328th win, becoming only the third player in the Masters 1000 history who won the title without losing serve after Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev!

With these 1000 points, Novak passed Roger Federer to become world no. 2 and stood only 35 points behind Rafael Nadal in the ATP Race. Borna played one of his best matches on hard court against Roger Federer in the semis to advance into his first Masters 1000 final. Still, he could not repeat that against an in-form Novak, who overpowered him in the serving department and from the baseline while moving around the court beautifully and always keeping the pressure on his rival. Djokovic was untouchable behind the initial shot, unleashing fury from his first serve and saving the only break chance after losing nine points in his games. On the other hand, the Serb grabbed 40% of the return points and scored two breaks from nine opportunities to seal the deal in straight sets and continue his fantastic run after Madrid. Novak tamed his shots efficiently, hitting 18 winners and 17 unforced errors, while Borna counted 20 winners and 38 unforced mistakes.

In 2018, Novak Djokovic defeated Borna Coric to win the Shanghai title.

Trying to outplay Djokovic, Coric finished with almost 20 mistakes from both forehand and backhand wing and failed to open up space and place his groundstrokes away from the rival’s reach. The Serb had a clear lead in the shortest points up to four strokes and an even more significant one in the mid-range rallies, winning 27 out of 40 points. Coric prevailed in the more extended exchanges, although that was not enough to give him a more favorable result. Novak needed only a couple of shots to find the zone, sailing through the opener’s service games to challenge Borna and seek the desired break. The Croat had three solid service games but wasted two game points at 2-3 and sprayed a backhand error that sent Novak 4-2 ahead. Serving for the set at 5-3, Djokovic blasted three winners to bring it home after 38 minutes, forcing Coric to find something special if he wanted to turn the things around in the rest of the encounter.

However, that never happened after he missed an easy volley at the beginning of the second set and got broken. Novak was in complete control now, almost scoring another break in a marathon third game that lasted for 13 minutes. He created four break points but squandered them all to keep Borna within one break deficit after a service winner from a persistent Croat. Coric earned that only break chance in the sixth game, but his forehand let him down, allowing Novak to bring the game home with two service winners and move 4-2 ahead. Facing three match points on serve at 3-5, Borna made one last push and erased them before bringing the game home with a volley winner to reduce the deficit. The next game was hardly an obstacle for Djokovic, as he held at love to seal the deal and celebrate the 32nd Masters 1000 title, one of the most dominant ones he has ever clinched.

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