It might be advisable to give Novak Djokovic the keys to the Qizhong Tennis Center now that he’s won a record fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters trophy.
The second-seeded Djokovic was sheer perfection in capturing a 6-3, 6-4 win over 13th-seeded Borna Coric in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic was previously tied with Andy Murray in owning three Shanghai titles, but now stands alone as the most decorated champion in the tournament’s 10-year history.
There’s no doubt that Djokovic brings his best when he plays in China. Overall, he’s won all 11 finals he’s played in the country to secure four Shanghai trophies, six Beijing titles, and also won the year-end Tennis Masters Cup at this venue in 2008. All that amounts to a superb 69-9 winning record in China.
“Maybe from the past life. maybe I was Chinese in the past life,” said Djokovic, smiling, in explaining why he might be successful playing in the country. “I wouldn’t be surprised, to be honest, with the way I feel here and the way I communicate and have relationship with the people.
“It’s all very, very positive, for more than ten years that I have been coming to China. There is something special about this place that makes me feel like at home.”
Djokovic leaves China on an 18-match winning streak, which is the longest of any man this season. Roger Federer, who lost here in the semifinals, and Rafael Nadal, still recuperating from a knee injury, both had 17-match winning streaks during the year.
This has been a remarkable recovery year for Djokovic, who underwent right elbow surgery in January after taking many months off and still experiencing problems with the injury. He finally came into his own the second half of this year to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, bringing his count of Grand Slam title victories to 14.
Since the start of Wimbledon, Djokovic’s amassed a stunning 27-1 winning record heading into the final stretch of the season. He leaves Shanghai having moved up one spot on the ranking ladder to No. 2, which drops Federer back to No. 3.
But more importantly for Djokovic is that he’s now in striking distance of upended Nadal from the No. 1 spot by the end of the year. He currently is 215 points behind Nadal.
The 21-year-old Coric had little options against the in-form Djokovic in the final. They’ve played three times now and Coric is still waiting to win a set.
To be fair, most players would’ve struggled to handle the precision that was Djokovic this week. In particular, the Djokovic serve was stellar as he posted a perfect 47 service games won record here at the Shanghai Masters. That enabled the Serbian to worry less about holding serve and concentrate on breaking serve, which he did once in each set to secure the victory.
“Well, to be honest, I’m not sure whether it has happened ever, you know, that I go through a tournament without dropping one service game,” Djokovic said. “I’m sure that it hasn’t happened too many times if it did. So this was definitely one of the best service weeks that I had in my career.
“But for me serve was always, so to say, a hidden weapon, the shot in the game that is obviously very important, “the” most important. But I always try to use it with an accuracy and efficiency rather than speed and power.”
“It was really tough,” Coric said. “I didn’t know what to do exactly. I thought I was playing actually really well, which is in that moment not good because if I play bad, okay, I know I need to start playing better, need to change something.
“I’m just happy with the whole week. I think it was a really good week for me.”
Djokovic extended one break point offering to Coric in the match, in the sixth game of the second set, but the Croatian couldn’t convert on the opportunity. Djokovic was successful winning 29 of 32 first serve points and was 70% on winning second serve points as well.
Coric did push Djokovic into having to serve out the match when he saved three match points on his own serve in the ninth game. Djokovic did serve out the match at love in the next game, winning on a fourth match point when Coric hit a backhand just long of the baseline.
For now, it’s farewell from another exciting year in Shanghai where Novak Djokovic showed his muscle to prevail once again.