SHANGHAI (Reuters) – It proved all too easy once again for Novak Djokovic as the world number one continued his frightening dominance of men’s tennis by blitzing past Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win another Shanghai Masters title on Sunday.
The Serbian, 10-times a grand slam champion, brushed aside the challenge of a befuddled Tsonga 6-1 6-4 to claim his third Shanghai Masters and ninth title of a standout year that has left him being spoken of among the sport’s all-time greats.
Djokovic won three grand slams this year, was runner-up at the French Open and since suffering a surprise quarter-final loss to Ivo Karlovic in Qatar in January has made the final of all 13 events he has played.
The 30-year-old Tsonga had shown his serving prowess in taking out Rafa Nadal in three tight sets in the semi-finals on Saturday but against the imperious returning skills of Djokovic he had no answers.
The 28-year-old Serb nullified Tsonga’s most potent weapon to break his three opening service games and take a first set which the Frenchman played predominantly way behind the baseline.
Things improved for Tsonga at the start of the second set where he worked hard to fight off break points and stay on serve through the opening eight games as the Serb sauntered through his own service.
But the pressure proved too much, Djokovic pummelling balls to all angles with supreme court coverage at the expense of just eight unforced errors and he broke at the third attempt in the crucial ninth game and served out for victory.
“Today the key was to get as many serves back into play to Jo because he has one of the biggest serves in the game,” Djokovic told the ATP website (www.atpworldtour.com).
“He has shown that in the second set, with some break points early in the set. He came up with some aces, some big serves.”
It was a second straight tournament Djokovic had won without dropping a set after he landed his sixth China Open title in Beijing last week. The Serb now boasts a 38-1 win loss record on the Chinese hardcourts.
“Generally I felt always in control of the match. I felt like I’ve done everything right. I didn’t allow him to get into the rhythm, get into the match,” he said.
Tsonga will be comforted by his strong showing in China, which helped move him up to ninth in the race to qualify for the eight man end-of-season ATP Tour Finals in London next month.
“The first set went quick,” Tsonga said. “It’s not easy to stop him. He is really consistent on his return. Today I didn’t serve well enough, especially in the first set.
“After that, in the second, I served a little bit better, and it gave me the opportunity to have a chance on his serve. But finally I was not able to do it.”
The victory was Djokovic’s 57th ATP Tour title, moving him within two of Nadal’s mark of 27 Masters Series crowns and took his prize money for the year past a record $16 million.
(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore, editing by Ed Osmond/Alan Baldwin)