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Novak Djokovic edges Mischa Zverev in three sets in the Shanghai quarter-finals.

Djokovic Breaks The Tension In Shanghai

Serbian refocuses to win

Novak Djokovic, the top seed at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, was a game away from being upset by German qualifier Mischa Zverev in the second set of their quarter-final match on Friday, but broke back to win the match in three sets. So how did the Serbian overcome the pressure and get himself out of trouble?

“You're trying to reach that balance between being concentrated but at the same time being kind of calm and relaxed and enjoying the moment,” said Djokovic, who hummed a tune while waiting to return Zverev’s serve in the latter stages of the match. “I was always trying to keep that optimal state of mind. Instead of the occasional tantrum that I used to have, I [switched] that vibration and transformed it in a tune.

“It wasn't any mantra. It was a famous song, actually. I was using it to just forget about my previous mistake. And it worked.”

Djokovic’s trick worked wonders in a match where he needed to be patient in order to find a way out. The World No. 1 had not met Zverev at tour-level since 2009, and looked troubled by the left-hander’s variety. Staying on an even keel bought the Serbian enough time to find his range and move into the semi-finals, where he will face Roberto Bautista Agut.

“It was the most entertaining match of the tournament for me. I had to dig myself out of the hole,” Djokovic said. “He was the better player for most of the first part of the match. He played well tactically. He slowed down the pace. I knew his game, but I haven't played him in many, many years.

“I wasn't striking the ball very well from the beginning of the match, to be honest. I was quite flat with my feet. After that I started coming to the net more, just being more constructive with the point. I played solid at the end of the second and third sets.”