'Best tennis' gives Novak satisfaction

Novak Djokovic reacting after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Shanghai Masters final to claim his ninth title of the season, in which he also won three of the four Grand Slam finals.
Novak Djokovic reacting after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Shanghai Masters final to claim his ninth title of the season, in which he also won three of the four Grand Slam finals. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Beaten Tsonga says Serb's 'level is better than everybody'

SHANGHAI • Novak Djokovic handed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a 6-2, 6-4 beating yesterday as the world No. 1 claimed his third Shanghai Masters title to brutally strengthen his rule over men's tennis.

The one-sided victory in 1hr 18min at the Qi Zhong Stadium gave Djokovic his ninth trophy of a season in which he also won three out of the four Grand Slam finals.

The Serb's serve was broken once but he broke the floundering Tsonga four times, collecting his 10th title in China on the back of a 17-match winning streak including 22 straight sets.

Djokovic was similarly dominant over Andy Murray in the semi-finals and has looked untouchable in both Shanghai and Beijing, where he beat Rafael Nadal to win his sixth China Open last week.

"I think I've played the best tennis ever in these two weeks in terms of back to back. Honestly, that's how I felt," said Djokovic, who was showered with golden confetti at the victory ceremony.

"Energy-wise, I was great. I didn't get tired. I always had plenty of intensity, concentration, high performance level from the first match in Beijing to today's match."

The top-ranked player now expands his rankings points tally to 16,785, nearly double the 8,750 of second-placed Murray, and will finish world No. 1 for the fourth time in five years.

Tsonga could only shake his head in admiration at the "really impressive" Serb, after hardly managing to get a foothold in what was his second final of the year.

"Today there is nothing to say. He's playing a lot better than everybody. He's really consistent," said the Frenchman.

"You have to be in your best shape to beat him anyway, and everybody knows that it's not easy to play your best tennis every match.

"Yeah, I think his level is just better than everybody for the moment."

After a rock-star welcome complete with dry ice and ear-splitting music, Tsonga was quickly in trouble and he nervously netted on break points in the first and third games to go 0-3 down.

Some rare Djokovic errors gave Tsonga a break of his own but he immediately handed back the initiative to the Serb, who calmly served out to love for 6-2.

Tsonga hammered his second ace to get off the mark in the second set, and then two service winners and two more aces helped him neutralise a break point and go 2-1 up.

Djokovic held his first three service games to love, ramping up pressure on the Frenchman, but Tsonga held firm and he unleashed a crunching forehand to stay in front 4-3. The Frenchman stared down five break points in the second set but on the sixth, he finally cracked with a double fault to put Djokovic 5-4 ahead and serving for the match.

The Serb did not need asking twice, grabbing the first match point when Tsonga put a lob long, and then soaking up the acclaim from the below-capacity, early evening crowd.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2015, with the headline ''BEST TENNIS' GIVES NOVAK SATISFACTION'. Print Edition | Subscribe