SHANGHAI • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic sped into the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Feliciano Lopez in just 71 minutes yesterday as he continued his magical run in China.
As Andy Murray toiled, the unstoppable Serb dominated Spain's Lopez as he brought up his 14th win in a row, including a winning streak of 16 straight sets.
A backhand lob to break for 3-1 in the second set underlined the current superiority of Djokovic, who won his sixth China Open title last week and has now won 70 matches and lost only five this year.
"There is no secret. I guess it depends how do you feel on a given day, depends how well your opponent is playing, how well you're playing. It's a combination of things," said the two-time Shanghai champion.
"You can't just expect to win all the time very comfortably, but I've been doing so for the last week and a half. Obviously it's giving me more confidence. Any time I come back to the court, I feel good and I start off well."
His current unbeaten run stretches back to the Cincinnati Masters final in August and, with his win in Beijing, he became the first man to top US$15 million (S$20 million) in prize money in a year.
He said there was still room for improvement despite putting together what he calls his best season yet, after winning three out of four Grand Slam finals to reach a career total of 10.
"I think it's a combination of maintaining the high level, the performance, the tennis I have right now, and also working on certain parts of the game that I think can be improved," he said. "I was brought up that way and thought to always look for some room for improvement. I still believe there are shots in my game that can be better."
Earlier, Murray squeezed past John Isner in a comeback victory.
The Scot lost the first set on a tiebreak and he snapped at the umpire as his frustrations rose in the second set. But he finally broke the big-serving Isner and levelled the match at a set each.
The world No. 2 broke again for 4-3 in the decider and he left the American on his backside as he fended off break points in his next service game, before going on to take it 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4.
"Obviously it's tough to maintain your patience and not get a bit frustrated when you do get the chances and, you know, he serves an ace," Murray said. "There were like 13 break points. I would imagine he served an ace on at least half of those. He served very well when he was behind."
Rafael Nadal's recent resurgence, meanwhile, gathered pace when he beat Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 (7-6) to set up a quarter-final with Kevin Anderson, who ousted Japan's Kei Nishikori 7-6 (12-10), 7-6 (7-3).
ATP SHANGHAI MASTERS
Q-finals: StarHub Ch201, 1.30pm