Sunday, October 14, 2012

SHANGHAI 2012: Djokovic Saves 5 MPs To Win

As I predicted yesterday, the final match of the 2012 Shanghai Masters tournament between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic was a barn-burner, definitely one of the Top 10 matches of the year, and the longest 3-set final at 3 hours and 19 minutes. My ultimate prediction of a Murray win was incorrect, with Djokovic coming back from 7-5, 5-4, 30-0 to save an astonishing 5 match points to snatch the win from the jaws of defeat. The match also featured an epic tie-break, even longer than the now infamous one from the first set of the 2012 US Open final (which Murray won 12-10). This time Djokovic won this 20-minute tie-break 13-11 (saving 4 match points along the way) and used the momentum to break Murray twice in the deciding set and tuck it away 6-3.

The final score was Djokovic d. Murray, 5-7 7-6(11) 6-3, but the result is much more important than the score. By winning his 3rd ATP Masters Series shield of the year (Key Biscayne and Toronto) and his 13th of his career, Djokovic ties Roger Federer for having won 7 of the 9 Masters tournaments at some point. (And of the two Mastes tournaments he has not won, he has reached the final of Cincinnati 4 times in the last 5 years and the final of Monte Carlo  2 of the last 4 years.) Only Federer and Djokovic have reached the final of every Masters tournament among active players.

For Murray he dropped to 7 wins and 9 losses against his contemporary and rival and squandered an opportunity to win his 4th title of the year and place him in contention for a run to reach the top of the ATP rankings next summer. It was Djokovic's 5th title of 2012 (in 10 finals) and his 33rd career title (33-19 record in finals). Murray dropped to 24-13 in career finals.

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