Novak Djokovic was forced to pull out all the stops in his epic quarter-final clash with Mischa Zverev on Friday at the Shanghai Masters.
The world number one would come back from a set down to eventually triumph 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 on the hard courts of the Chinese city.
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) October 14, 2016
While Zverev was forced to save two break points early on, he bounced back to break Djokovic and take a 3-1 lead.
It was clear that the Serb was not firing on all cylinders, as he failed to create many opportunities and made too many mistakes. This culminated in an upbeat Zverev breaking in the final game of the set to go 1-0 up.
After Djokovic again went a break down in the second set, an upset was on the cards.
However, a couple of superb passing shots midway through the set finally gave Djokovic the second break he so desperately needed to take command of the set.
But Djokovic continued to rack up the unforced errors – which numbered 34 by the end of the set – allowing the world number 110 to break back, then hold serve to get to 5-4 and put all the pressure on the top seed.
Djokovic would show that he is made of stern stuff, twice holding serve when he absolutely had to and edging Zverev in the ensuing tiebreaker to force a deciding set.
Djokovic returned for the third set with a new shirt and what seemed new found rhythm, as his shots finally started to clean the lines. After racing to a 4-1 lead there was only ever going to be one winner.
A final hold of serve kept Djokovic’s dream of a record fourth Shanghai Masters title alive.
In other results, Roberto Bautista-Agut continued his stunning run, defeating ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.
The Spaniard broke the world number 13 four times en route to a 6-3, 6-4 win, booking his place in the final four where he will face Djokovic.