Novak Djokovic overcame a fierce challenge from Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday to defend his Shanghai Masters title with a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3) victory, improving his phenomenal winning streak in China to 20 matches.
The Serbian top seed looked set to wrap up the final in
double-quick time after a one-sided first set — but the Argentine, who conquered Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, hit back hard to take the match into a third set tie-break.
Djokovic held his nerve in the shoot-out to win a gripping contest lasting more than two-and-a-half hours for his fifth title of the season.
The victory keeps alive his slim chances of overtaking Nadal in the battle for the year-end number one ranking.
Del Potro came into the final against the top seed brimming with confidence after his semi-final demolition of Nadal, but was immediately on the back foot in breezy conditions at the Qizhong Tennis Center.
Del Potro, 25, has qualified for the elite season-ending World Tour Finals in London, featuring the season’s top eight players. Other confirmed qualifiers are Nadal, Djokovic and Spain’s David Ferrer.