Djokovic outlasts del Potro for Shanghai crown

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Shanghai, China ( - Novak Djokovic captured his second straight Shanghai Masters title with a gutty three-set victory over Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday's final.

Djokovic earned a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) triumph, claiming his fifth title of 2013 and his second in as many weeks. He also won the China Open last Sunday.

The Serb knocked off Rafael Nadal in the Beijing final last Sunday, but was denied a second shot at the super Spaniard when del Potro topped the newly anointed world No. 1 in Saturday's semifinals. Nadal had just supplanted Djokovic atop the world rankings this week.

Djokovic had little trouble in a 34-minute first set against del Potro on Sunday, but the Argentine broke serve for the first time in the second game of the second set and went on to even the match by fighting off three break points.

An ace saved Djokovic from a break point in the fifth game of the third set and del Potro saved four break points against his serve to send the match to a decisive tiebreaker.

Djokovic won the first two points of the tiebreak and never surrendered the advantage, eventually finishing the 2 1/2-hour marathon with a backhand winner.

"The match was really close and I think (Djokovic) played unbelievable points in the tiebreak," said del Potro. "The match was so exciting."

It was the 39th career tour-level title for Djokovic and his 15th Masters victory. He also won the Monte Carlo Masters crown back in April, beating Nadal for the coveted clay court championship.

Djokovic improved to 39-21 overall in finals, including 15-10 in Masters title matches. He is also 5-2 in finals this year, with his two defeats coming against Andy Murray at Wimbledon and Nadal at the U.S. Open.

Del Potro, like Djokovic, was gunning for his second title in as many weeks. He won in Tokyo last weekend and fell to 16-7 lifetime in title matches, including 3-2 this year. The 2009 U.S. Open champ has never won a Masters tournament.

This was the fourth meeting this year between Djokovic and del Potro, and the 13th overall matchup, but their first-ever in a final.

"He's a fantastic player and a great person," said Djokovic about del Potro. "He showed that again. He has a really likable personality (and) he's a big fighter. All the way up to the last point, I didn't know if I was going to win the match. It was a very even match. My motivation is there always, especially when I'm playing finals of such a big event."

Djokovic has won three times this year, also capturing semifinal wins in Dubai and Wimbledon in addition to Sunday's triumph. Del Potro's lone win this year came in the semis at Indian Wells. He is now just 3-10 lifetime against Djokovic.