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Best ATP Matches Of 2013

Best Of 2013

Players© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic played a great match in the Shanghai final. reviews the two best ATP World Tour matches of the year. 

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2. Novak Djokovic d. Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(3), Shanghai Final
Is there room at the top for another gripping rivalry? Juan Martin del Potro would argue there is after a series of scintillating clashes with Novak Djokovic this season, none more so than in the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. 

The Argentine came into the clash having upset new-World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the semi-finals and was looking to win his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown. But Djokovic was a man on a mission. Unbeaten since the US Open final, the Serb was not taking the loss of the top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings lightly and prevailed in two hours and 33 minutes to retain his Shanghai crown.

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After a slow start to the match, in which he found himself dominated by Djokovic’s forehand, del Potro hit his stride in the second set. The Tandil native broke serve early and reeled off five straight points when serving at 4-2, 0/40 as he levelled the match. 

"He's a fantastic player and a great person," said Djokovic. "He showed that again. He has a really likable personality [and] he's a big fighter. All the way up to the last point, I didn't know if I was going to win the match."

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Fans at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center were kept on the edge of their seats in the final set. Djokovic came under pressure first, saving a break point in the fifth game, before del Potro saved two match points at 4-5, 15/40. Fittingly, it came down to a tie-break, in which Djokovic always had the edge. The Serb opened up 2-0 and 4-2 leads before closing out victory with a backhand winner down the line.

"The match was really close and I think Nole played [some] unbelievable points in the tie-break," said del Potro. "The match was so exciting. At Wimbledon [in early July] we played another fantastic match against each other. It's a really bad loss for me now. I was really close to beating him after beating [Rafael] Nadal."

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1. Rafael Nadal d. Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), Montreal SFs
It would have taken the most ambitious of Rafael Nadal fans to predict upon the Spaniard’s comeback in February, that by August he would be challenging once again for the top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Standing firmly in his way was Novak Djokovc, who looked to stop Nadal’s momentum when they met for the third time this season in the semi-finals of the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. The clash came three months after their hotly contested Roland Garros semi-final, which Nadal edged 9-7 in the fifth set, denying Djokovic the chance to achieve his season’s goal of winning the French Open crown.

NadalThere had only been one blip in a remarkable first half of the season for Nadal – a shock first-round loss to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon. In his first tournament back after that defeat, the Spaniard was looking to re-assert himself and had advanced to the meeting with Djokovic without dropping a set.

Nadal made the better start to the match, benefitting from a fit of Djokovic double faults to seal the opener. Djokovic found his rhythm in the second set, though, and a service break in the ninth game helped him level the match. The pair could not be separated in the decider, but it was Nadal who dominated the eventual tie-break, racing to a 6-0 lead before clinching victory on his third match point.

“I started this important part of the season with a big result for me," added Nadal. "To be in the final is amazing. Especially beating the best player in the world, Novak, tonight; it is a big result for me. I am very happy for that. 

“I said yesterday the only chance to win against Novak, the only tactic is to play very well. To play very well, I have to play aggressive. If not, I cannot play very well on this kind of surface. And I did. I played a very high level tonight.”

Djokovic said, “It was very close match. There were very few points that decided the winner. I guess at the end he played better… Whenever we play against each other, it's always a thrilling match for the crowd to see. We are both competing at a high level. We both want to win these matches.”

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Read Best ATP Matches Countdown 5-3.

Coming tomorrow... The best Grand Slam matches of 2013.

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