Djokovic stands tall in Shanghai

Novak Djokovic with the trophy.

Novak Djokovic is within touching distance of Rafael Nadal's number one ranking after winning the Shanghai Masters with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Borna Coric on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Croatian Coric had his right thigh heavily strapped and had been suffering a stiff neck for what was the biggest match of his young career.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic broke the 19th-ranked Coric -- a good friend and sometime-training partner -- in the sixth game of the first set on the way to another no-nonsense victory.

The end was anti-climactic, with the Serb winning the championship point after a video review, Coric having challenged the call. Djokovic buried his head in his hand at the absurdity of it.

The 31-year-old will leapfrog Roger Federer into second in the world when the rankings are released on Monday and is in imperious form as the season reaches its climax.

Red-hot Djokovic has now been victorious in 18 ATP matches in a row and in recent months won Wimbledon, the Cincinnati Masters, the US Open and now Shanghai.

The last four months had been "fantastic" and "tremendous", he said.

"I'm cherishing every moment of it," he told the crowd, calling Shanghai "a special place" to him. "I could not ask for a better scenario," Djokovic said of his late surge to the summit of men's tennis.

"I am very close now to Nadal in the rankings and put myself in a good position for the last period of the year."

Coric said he had no complaints about losing to "one of the best in the history of tennis".

This was a fourth Shanghai crown for Djokovic. He had fallen as low as 22 in rankings as he struggled following elbow surgery in February. He also missed the second half of 2017 with elbow and off-court issues.

Garcia triumphs

Caroline Garcia won her first title of the year as the French player defeated Karolina Pliskova to edge a nervy Tianjin Open final on Sunday.

The 16th-ranked Garcia battled through a narrow first set before streaking away in the second to beat the Czech top seed 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.

The Tianjin title is the sixth of Garcia's career.

Paes wins

Old warhorse Leander Paes is still going great guns as the veteran tennis star won his second Challenger-level title of the season, lifting the Santo Domingo Open trophy with partner Miguel Angel Reyyes-Varela.

The second-seeded Indo-Mexican pair, playing its second consecutive final, came from behind to beat Ariel Behar and Roberto Quiroz 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 in the summit clash.

 

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Djokovic stands tall in Shanghai

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