Read & Watch: Djokovic Wins Record Fourth Shanghai Title, 32nd Masters 1000 Crown
Serbian steps up bid for year-end No. 1 finish
Novak Djokovic captured a record fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters title on Sunday to step up his bid to finish 2018 as the year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. The Serbian star extended his winning streak to 18 matches with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Croatian No. 13 seed Borna Coric for his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.
"It's phenomenal. I'm very proud of it," Djokovic said. "Obviously the last three, four months have been terrific for me. Not many holes in the game in general, especially this week. Everything worked perfectly."
He is now just 35 points behind 33-time Masters 1000 titles leader Rafael Nadal (7,480) in the year-to-date ATP Race To London with three weeks left in the regular ATP World Tour season. Djokovic, who has already booked his place alongside Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in the English capital from 11-18 November, finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2011-12, 2014-15.
Djokovic did not drop his serve in Shanghai all week — 47 service games — and after another confident display in Sunday’s final he improved to a 27-1 match record since the start of Wimbledon. He had previously captured the Shanghai title in 2012 (d. Murray), 2013 (d. Del Potro), and 2015 (d. Tsonga).
"This was definitely one of the best service weeks that I've had in my career," Djokovic said. "I was saying before that I have never played on faster courts here in Shanghai, so this year more than ever I needed a lot of success with the first serves in, and I have had plenty of success with first serves and high per cent of first serves in every match. So obviously that brings me a lot of joy."
He is now 20-6 at Masters 1000 tournaments this year — second only to Zverev (22-7) for most match win. The 31-year-old also won Western & Southern Open silverware in August with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Federer to become the first player to capture all nine Masters 1000 titles since the tournament series was established in 1990. Tomorrow, he will return to the world’s Top 2 — replacing Federer at No. 2 — for the first time since 11 June 2017.
Djokovic leaves China with 1,000 ATP Rankings points and $1,360,560 in prize money after he lifted his 72nd tour-level crown. He has a 45-10 record this season (23-4 on hard courts), which includes three other trophies at Wimbledon (d. Anderson), Cincinnati and the US Open (d. Federer). Coric earned 600 points and $667,115 after contesting his fifth ATP World Tour final (2-3 record).
Second seed Djokovic was relentless in defence and quick to capitalise on the short ball, in a physical opening to the final that saw six shots as the average rally length through the first six games. The Serbian took a 4-2 lead after 25 minutes when Coric over-hit a forehand long of the baseline. Djokovic kept his opponent on the move, mixing up his service placement and making forays to the net in order to extend his advantage. He clinched the 38-minute first set with a hold to love, having lost four service points overall.
A forehand volley error from Coric gifted Djokovic the opening game of the second set, but the Croatian did well to save four break points in the third game that lasted 11 minutes. With victory in sight, Djokovic raised his return game to hold three championship points at 5-3, but Coric showed great character to work his way back with aggressive play. But Djokovic was too strong, closing it out in one hour and 36 minutes.
The 21-year-old Coric, who beat Federer in the Gerry Weber Open final in June and also on Saturday in the Shanghai semi-finals, was attempting to become the youngest champion at the Masters 1000 tournament, held at the Qi Zhong Stadium. He is now 8-15 lifetime against Top 5 opponents and is 36-18 on the year (22-11 on hard courts).
“I thought I was actually playing really well,” said Coric. “I'm feeling good on the court. I was not serving particularly well, but that's also because I think he was returning extremely well. So I was going for a little bit more.
“I'm just happy with the whole week. I think it was a really good week for me, from basically me thinking on Monday morning I'm going to fly out on Monday evening after my first match [against Stan Wawrinka] to playing my first Masters 1000 final. It's awesome. I need to take only positives from this week.”