Novak Djokovic eased past 21-year-old Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Rolex Shanghai Masters for his fourth title at the annual tournament — the most in the event’s 10-year history. The victory also lifted him past Roger Federer into No. 2 in the world behind Rafael Nadal.
Coric, from Croatia, made his first ATP 1000 final by upsetting defending champion Federer in Saturday’s semifinal.
The second-seeded Djokovic led their head-to-head 2-0 ahead of the clash with his 13th-seeded opponent, though it was their first meeting on hardcourt. The two entertained the crowd with long rallies from the get-go.
Djokovic broke Coric in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead and went on to serve for the set 6-3. The Croat was broken again at the beginning of the second set. He was 3-5 down before Djokovic’s service game, and managed to save three match points to stay alive. Djokovic created another three match points in the 10th game and put an end to the match at the very first chance.
“Borna played a very good week of tennis,” the Serb said, praising his opponent. “He played well on match points, and I’m happy I held my nerve.”
The victory extended his winning streak to 18 matches, the longest of the season by any male player. Federer and Nadal both had 17-match winning streaks during the year.
Djokovic also did not drop a single service game through the whole week, a record that surprised him as well. “Serve was never my No. 1 weapon, but a hidden weapon which I try to use with accuracy rather than speed and power. I had a high percentage of first serves here this week, which I enjoyed.”
“It was really tough,” Coric said after the match. “I was actually playing well, maybe not as well as yesterday. I was not serving well enough which was because he was returning well, too. He was the much better player on the court. I couldn’t play much better today to be frank.”
Coric has said that when he plays well, he plays very much like Djokovic. “It was a very good lesson (from Novak) today, though I didn’t really enjoy it much,” he joked.
Djokovic holds an 11-0 overall record in finals played in China, where he also won the Beijing tournament six times and the 2008 year-end Tennis Masters Cup held in Shanghai.
The 31-year-old has won the Shanghai Masters three times before — 2012 (beating Andy Murray), 2013 (beating Juan Martin del Potro) and 2015 (beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga). The latest 1,000 points lifted him within 35 points of leader Nadal, who has 7,480 points.
“To become world No. 1 will be my biggest goal this year,” said the Serb.
Coric will also move up to a career-high No. 13 after upsetting Federer 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday, a match he described as “one of the best” he has ever played.
“I think I served the best in my life. I was going for the angles, for the body. Everything was going in. That was much above my standard level,” said the Croat, who had beaten Federer in the Halle final in June to become the youngest champion at that tournament.
Coric didn’t give Federer, 16 years his senior, a single break point opportunity, but managed to break the Swiss in the opening games of the two sets.
“He had more punch on the ball. He served better. I think that’s it,” said the 37-year-old Federer. “The rest, he had more chances than I had. I got off to a bad start in both sets.”
Federer was still happy with his performance in Shanghai as the season winds down, and expressed his wish to come back.
“I am happy with how I am playing. I feel like I am explosive out there, returning well. I think the court allowed for great ball striking. I felt like I got some great rhythm. I don’t know about a lot of things (about next season), but the Asian swing at the end of the season is always pretty set up in a way that if I am playing, obviously I am coming here.”
In the doubles final at Qizhong Tennis Center’s Center Court earlier yesterday, the third-seeded pair of Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo defeated sixth-seeded Jamie Murray of Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 for the championship.