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By Chris Oddo

Novak Djokovic wins the 2012 Shanghai Rolex Masters (October 14, 2012)--Novak Djokovic survived another epic encounter with Andy Murray in Shanghai on Sunday, saving five match points in the second set before going on to win 5-7, 7-6(11), 6-3 in three hours and twenty-one minutes.

The match appeared to be headed in the same direction as the pair’s recent U.S. Open final before Djokovic reversed course with Murray serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set and up 30-0.

Djokovic played the point of the tournament next, chasing down a precise Murray lob and blasting a tweener back to the baseline, then hitting an exquisite drop shot to avoid going triple match point down. But it wasn’t crisis averted for Djokovic, it was merely crisis delayed.

Two points later the Serb, who has now won ten consecutive matches, faced his first match point of the afternoon, and calmly lashed a forehand winner to get to deuce.

After Djokovic completed the break, both players held serve to force a tiebreaker – then the real fun began.

Djokovic would face four more match points in the breaker; he would courageously knock back three of them with forehand winners, while saving the other one with a big serve that Murray could only dump back into the net.

“He was so close to victory that I cannot say I was the better player,” said Djokovic, who has now won seven of the nine Masters 1000 titles and reached all nine finals. “Could have easily gone the other way. When I faced those match points, I tried to focus on each individually.”

In the third set, a weary Murray -- both emotionally and physically -- couldn’t hang with the spirited Serb. He fell behind a break then dropped serve a second time in the ninth game, sending the pro-Djokovic Chinese crowd into fits of appreciative applause.

“Long points, long games – very physical match,” said Murray afterwards.

Djokovic claims his 13th Masters 1000 title with the victory, his 70th of the season against 11 losses. The Serb now ranks 4th all-time in terms of Masters titles, trailing only Federer (21), Nadal (21) and Agassi (17).

Murray failed in his bid to beat the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world for a second time in 2012 (he accomplished the feat at the Olympic Games this year), and also fell short of three-peating at Shanghai. He defeated Federer in the 2010 final and Ferrer in 2011.  

“It was a disappointing match to lose,” said Murray. “But I’ve lost tougher matches than that before, at the biggest events, so I’m sure I’ll recover from it.”

(Photo Credit: Eugene Hoshiko/AP)


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