Novak Djokovic has thrashed a misfiring Andy Murray to set up a Shanghai Masters final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the World No.1 guns for his 10th title in China.
Djokovic’s blockbuster semi-final with second-ranked Murray was hotly anticipated but the 6-1 6-3 result was anti-climactic after Tsonga’s thrilling upset of Rafael Nadal earlier.
The mercurial Frenchman recovered from an embarrassing second set to win 6-4 0-6 7-5, pulling off one of his trademark athletic dives to bring up match point.
But Tsonga now faces the steepest of challenges against Djokovic, who moves into his 13th straight final on a 16-match winning streak, and has never lost a final in China.
Djokovic said his win against Murray was his “best match of the tournament” after a blip in this year’s Montreal final, he brought up his ninth win in the past 10 matches.
“Obviously, there was a lot at stake. Whenever we play against each other, it’s always exciting. It’s always a huge challenge,” Djokovic said.
“But I was ready. I came in from the very first point with the right intensity, played great, on a very high level.”
Djokovic broke Murray five times as the Briton struggled to control his serve and his temper, double-faulting to yield the first of three breaks in a forgettable first set.
“Obviously disappointed with the way I played. I served poorly in the first set especially,” Murray said.
“You can’t afford to do that against Novak with the way he’s playing just now, the amount of confidence he has in his game, and the conditions over here.”
As they played, Tsonga was already celebrating one of his biggest wins this year, while Nadal was happy to see signs of life in his game after a disappointing season.
“I was there until the end. Was not (my) day to win. I just need to adjust a little bit a few more things. But in general I have to be happy,” Nadal said.
The Spaniard’s serve had only been broken once all week but Tsonga finally pierced his armour in the fifth game with a smoking backhand winner before he totted up a one-set lead.
But Tsonga was all at sea in the second set, before regathering himself for a tight deciding set.
Serving for the match, Tsonga dived full-length for a forehand volley and then got up to parry the scrambling Nadal’s reply and bring up match point, which the Spaniard lost tamely.
“I will play against a very good player. I know it’s going to be difficult. But it’s for me an opportunity to hold a new trophy anyway because I’m in final,” Tsonga said.