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Djokovic Downs Tsonga To Reach Shanghai Final

Shanghai, China

Djokovic© Shanghai Rolex MastersNovak Djokovic is on a 19-match win streak in China.

Top seed Novak Djokovic is one win away from retaining his Shanghai Rolex Masters crown after winning through to the championship match by defeating seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Saturday. 

The 26-year-old Djokovic won 6-2, 7-5 and fired six aces during the match, which lasted one hour and 34 minutes. He led Tsonga 4-2 in the second set before the Frenchman staged a comeback, which included saving one match point in the final game. He was unable to fend off a second, as Djokovic sealed the victory with a forehand winner. 

"It's important for me to get into another final," the Serb said in a post-match television interview, adding that he was pleased with his return game and serving at key moments. "[My serving] was very controlled, very efficient... I was trying to open up the court and move him around. I know he likes to have targets, he likes to play from the backhand corners so I tried not to [let] him into that comfort zone."

Tsonga admitted he didn't serve well enough to cause the World No. 2 enough trouble.  "Today I played well in the second set [but] I know I can play a lot better so I will continue to work."

In the final, Djokovic will face sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who qualified for next month's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a semi-final victory over Rafael Nadal.

Sunday will mark Djokovic's seventh final of the season, with two losses coming at Wimbledon (l. to Andy Murray) and the US Open (l. to Nadal).  The Serb's career record in finals is 38-21, and he's 14-10 in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals. He's also on a 19-0 streak on Chinese soil. 

The Serb improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Tsonga to 11-5 and has now won his past nine battles against the Frenchman. 

A win for the 28-year-old Tsonga would have seen him reach his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final outside his home nation. His run to the final four in Shanghai lifted him two positions to No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Race to London standings. There are five places up for grabs.

Next week, Tsonga is scheduled to play the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, a tournament he won in 2011.  "I have to play if I want to go [to London]... I just have to play and try to win as much as possible."

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© Arnaud Briand

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