Novak Djokovic is vying for this third championship at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. He won the event back to back in 2012 and 2013. He faces 16th see Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's final.
(1) Novak Djokovic vs (16) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Djokovic Mauls Murray
The semifinal clash between top seed Novak Djokovic and third seed Andy Murray did not live up to the hype as the top seed cruised 6-1, 6-3. Djokovic was all over Murray's serve with the Scot struggling to land his first serve consistently. That left Djokovic ample opportunity to crush Murray's second serve. The Serb won 19 of 26 points off Murray's second serve and broke the Scot five times on eight break chances. That including breaking him three of four service games in the first set. In the second, Djokovic struggled to open as Murray broke him for the only time in the match. In typical Djokovic fashion though, the world number one would break right back. Djokovic would score the decisive break in the next Murray service game and hold to the end of an easy win.
Tsonga Wins Topsy Turvy Affair With Nadal
Tsonga had a much harder time working against Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. The Frenchman came out firing in the opening set with a wicked first serve that won 14 of 18 points. After Nadal saved two break points in the opening game, Tsonga would see three more break points in the fifth game. He would finally convert on number five to secure the break and a 3-2 lead. He would hold on serve the remainder of the set for a 6-4 set win.
The wheels came entirely off the Tsonga train in the second with the 16th seed's serve disappearing as Nadal scored a bagel 6-0 to even the match. Tsonga was back on point in the third as he did not allow Nadal to see a break point as he finally crafted the decisive break opportunity in the eleventh game for a break. Tsonga would serve out the match for a 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 win. Tsonga's forehand was a big weapon the entire match and enabled the Frenchman to throw down 40 winners on the night.
Djokovic and Tsonga have met 21 times in their careers with Djokovic holding a 14-7 advantage. It was the Frenchman who won their last encounter. That came in 2014 at the Rogers Cup where Tsonga prevailed 6-2, 6-2 during his shocking run to the title that week. Prior to that, Djokovic had won ten straight against Tsonga. The two have met twice in Shanghai with Tsonga winning way back in 2008 by a score of 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. Djokovic won the more recent meeting in 2013 in the semifinal round 6-2, 7-5.
It has been a fantastic week for Tsonga with big wins over Kevin Anderson and Rafael Nadal in the last two rounds. This match-up with Djokovic gives him a massive opportunity for another rankings boost, but will be difficult to say the least. Tsonga is set to move into the Top 10 based on his result so far this week and that will be a nice consolation prize. The final against Djokovic in his current form looks like a difficult ask for the Frenchman. Djokovic has been all over the serve of his opponents this week, breaking them 17 times in four matches.
Tsonga's first serve can be mighty when it is working at its best, but the lapse he showed in the second set against Nadal in the semifinals is not a good sign. Djokovic is the best returner and defender in the game and he will take every advantage that Tsonga gives to him. Djokovic is one of the best at exacting revenge for losses that a lot may have forgotten. You can bet that Djokovic has not forgotten the last time these two met and would love to add another trophy to a record setting season. Tsonga may stick around late in sets if his serve holds up, but count on the Serb breaking him down eventually just as he has with everyone else this week.
Prediction: Djokovic in straights