Djokovic bests Murray, Tsonga stops Nadal to reach Shanghai Masters final
SHANGHAI — Novak Djokovic has made winning so routine this year that even when he dominates one of his biggest rivals, he takes it in stride.
The top-ranked Serb broke Andy Murray five times en route to a 6-1, 6-3 win in the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters on Saturday, one of his most lopsided victories ever over the two-time major winner.
Afterward, Djokovic said he would only allow himself to enjoy the victory for a moment before turning his attention to Sunday’s final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 winner over Rafael Nadal in the other semifinal.
"When you keep on winning like this, you don’t have time to reflect on the victories, the way you have played," he said. "I try to enjoy it for the little time that I have. But knowing that I have a final tomorrow … I have to focus already on the next one."
No wonder Djokovic continues to find himself in this situation, playing for titles on the final day of tournaments.
Djokovic will be aiming for his ninth title in what has already been one of the most successful seasons of his career. Not only has he won three Grand Slam titles, he has reached the final in every tournament he has played since the Qatar Open in January when he lost to Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals.
That’s a remarkable 13 consecutive finals and counting.
Murray looked to have the best chance of stopping that streak on Saturday. Even though Djokovic had won eight of their last nine matches, Murray prevailed in their most recent encounter in Montreal in August and was hoping to carry some momentum into the season-ending ATP finals and Davis Cup final against Belgium.
But the Scot had an uncharacteristically poor serving night, dooming his chances. Murray only got 46 percent of his first serves in play and double-faulted six times, including on break point to give Djokovic a 3-1 lead in the second set.
"Obviously disappointed with the way I played," Murray said. "I served poorly in the first set especially. You can’t afford to do that against Novak with the way he’s playing just now, the amount of confidence he has in his game."
Djokovic, by comparison, played almost flawless tennis. He lost just five points on his first serve all night — only one in the first set — and made seven unforced errors to 30 for Murray.
"It’s the best match of the tournament at the right time against a player who was in form and one of my biggest rivals," he said. "Obviously, there was a lot at stake."
Djokovic had a similarly comprehensive victory over Nadal last week in the final of the China Open, losing just four games. The Spaniard had been hoping for another crack at Djokovic — and a title — in Shanghai, but faltered down the stretch in a tight match against Tsonga.
After Nadal easily won the second set, Tsonga broke him to go up 6-5 in the third and then got to match point with a diving volley that clipped the baseline. He closed it out when Nadal dumped a backhand into the net.
"I was there until the end. Was not the day to win," Nadal said.
Tsonga, seeded 16th, had not reached a final this season until capturing the Open de Moselle title last month in France.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the Frenchman after he missed 11 weeks at the start of the season with an arm injury. He reached the semifinals of the French Open, but also lost early a number of times and briefly dropped out of the top 20.
"To be honest, before (I) come here, I didn’t know if I will be able to play that good," Tsonga said. "But finally I play really good … I hope it’s going to continue."
It’s going to have to against Djokovic. Like Murray, Tsonga goes into the match having won their most recent encounter, also at the Canadian Open last year.
"He won today against Nadal in an exciting match. He was fighting, diving on the court," Djokovic said. "I know what to expect."