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Djokovic Saves 5 M.P. To Dethrone Murray

Shanghai, China

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic won his 13th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy.

World No. 2 Novak Djokovic saved five match points as he edged two-time defending champion Andy Murray 5-7, 7-6(11), 6-3 in a an exhilarating 3hr., 21min., contest in the Shanghai Rolex Masters final on Sunday.

Since losing to Murray in last month’s US Open final, the 25-year-old Djokovic has compiled a perfect 10-0 record, winning back-to-back titles at the China Open (d. Tsonga) in Beijing and now in Shanghai. The Serb has an ATP World Tour-leading 70 match wins this year, also taking in titles at the Australian Open (d. Nadal), the Sony Open Tennis in Miami (d. Murray) and the Rogers Cup in Toronto (d. Gasquet).

Djokovic clinched his seventh different ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and 13th overall. He has reached six Masters 1000 finals this season, adding to his victories in Shanghai, Toronto and Miami with runner-up showings at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Nadal), the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (l. to Nadal) and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati (l. to Federer).

His results this season have left Djokovic locked in battle with Roger Federer for the year-end No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking.

"I'm trying to focus now on the end of the season," said Djokovic. "I need to play well indoors. I need to try to stay consistent with my results and eventually get a shot at No. 1 of the world. It's my biggest objective in this moment. It's something I'm aiming for. Obviously this is going to be a huge confidence boost and is going to help me in the race for No. 1. As I said, it's still not done.  I still have to play well indoors."

In a first set featuring seven breaks of serve, Murray finally gained the upper hand as he broke for a 6-5 lead before closing out the opener. The Scot then broke Djokovic for a 4-3 lead in the second set and looked poised for victory as he led 5-4, 30/0.

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The Djokovic fightback began in the following point. He hit a ‘tweener to claw his way back into an exchange that Murray was winning and clinched it with a drop shot. Murray had his first match point at 40/30, but a forehand winner from Djokovic thwarted the Scot. Murray then hit a forehand long on a break point for Djokovic to surrender his advantage.

A pulsating tie-break followed, with Murray squandering four more match points at 6-4, 8-7 and 10-9 before Djokovic converted his fourth set point with a forehand winner to send the contest into a deciding set.

Murray fended off a break point in the fifth game of the third set, but could not keep Djokovic at bay in the seventh game as the Belgrade native engineered a 4-3 lead. Murray saved two match points on serve down 3-5, but Djokovic converted his third opportunity to claim a memorable victory. Djokovic extended his lead over Murray to 9-7 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Djokovic"It's difficult to judge who was better because it was so close throughout the whole match," said Djokovic. "We had so many rallies in three and a half hours; for a best-of-three set match it is a very long time. Could have easily gone the other way. He was five match points up. When I faced those match points, I tried to focus on each individually. He was so close to the victory that I cannot say I was the better player."

The 25-year-old Murray was bidding to win the Shanghai title for a third year in a row and saw his perfect record at the event come to an end (12-1). The Dunblane native had beaten World No. 1 Roger Federer in the semi-finals and was attempting to beat the ATP World Tour’s Top 2 at the same event for the second time this year, having also done so en route to claiming the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

"It was a disappointing one to lose," said Murray. "I've lost tougher matches than that before in the biggest events. So I'm sure I'll recover from it pretty well.

"The second set, I probably played a little bit better. But he came up, served very well on the match points. The one match point I had on my serve, he hit the forehand onto the edge of the line. On the game where I served for the match, he also came up with some good shots.

"It's not like I threw the match away. I didn't make any real glaring errors or anything. When I had my chances, he just served very well and hit a couple of lines when he needed to."

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