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Djokovic wins record fourth Shanghai Masters title

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SHANGHAI — Novak Djokovic won a record fourth Shanghai Masters title with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 13th-seeded Borna Coric on Sunday.

The second-seeded Djokovic has won all four Shanghai finals he’s contested in his career (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018). He previously shared the record of winning three Shanghai titles with Andy Murray.

Djokovic holds an 11-0 overall record in finals played in China, where he also won the Beijing tournament six times and the 2008 year-end Tennis Masters Cup held in Shanghai.

“Maybe I was Chinese in the past life,” said Djokovic, smiling, in explaining impressive record in the country. “I wouldn’t be surprised, to be honest, with the way I feel here and the way I communicate and have relationship with the people.

“It’s all very, very positive, for more than ten years that I have been coming to China. There is something special about this place that makes me feel like at home.”

Djokovic dominated opponents behind his powerful serve, winning all 47 of his service games during the tournament.

“Well, to be honest, I’m not sure whether it has happened ever, you know, that I go through a tournament without dropping one service game,” Djokovic said. “I’m sure that it hasn’t happened too many times if it did. So this was definitely one of the best service weeks that I had in my career.

“But for me serve was always, so to say, a hidden weapon, the shot in the game that is obviously very important, “the” most important. But I always try to use it with an accuracy and efficiency rather than speed and power.”

The Serb offered 13th-seeded Coric one break point in the match, in the sixth game of the second set. Coric, who has yet to win a set against Djokovic in three matches played, sailed a forehand wide to miss out on the rare opportunity.

“It was really tough,” Coric said. “I didn’t know what to do exactly. I thought I was playing actually really well, which is in that moment not good because if I play bad, okay, I know I need to start playing better, need to change something.

“I’m just happy with the whole week. I think it was a really good week for me.”

Djokovic, who has now won four titles this season, will move up one ranking spot to No. 2, pushing Roger Federer back to No. 3.

The victory extended his winning streak to 18 matches, the longest of the season by any male player. Federer and Nadal both had 17-match winning streaks during the year.

Coric, who had his right thigh wrapped throughout the match, saved three match points on his own serve in the ninth game of the second set.

But the Croatian couldn’t prevent Djokovic from snatching the title on a fourth match point in the next game. Djokovic won the final game to love when Coric sailed a backhand long.

Opelka edges top-seeded Isner to reach New York Open final

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) Reilly Opelka edged top-seeded John Isner the same way he knocked his fellow American out of the Australian Open, winning a match full of tiebreakers Saturday night in a New York Open semifinal that set a record for combined aces in a three-set match.

Opelka fought off six match points in a marathon second set and went on to win 6-7 (8), 7-6 (14), 7-6 (4) to move within a victory of his first ATP title.

The 6-foot-11 Opelka and 6-10 Isner combined for 81 aces and there were no breaks of serve. Opelka hit 43 aces, Isner had 38, and each had only one double fault.

It was similar to their meeting in Melbourne, when Opelka beat the ninth-ranked Isner in a first-round match that went four tiebreakers.

Opelka will play Canadian Brayden Schnur, a qualifier who had never won a tour-level match before this week.

Schnur recovered after blowing a 3-0 lead and eventually the second set to beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3.

Schnur was the final alternate accepted into the tournament’s qualifying draw and was nearly gone from Long Island quickly, eventually overcoming two match points to beat No. 3 seed Steve Johnson in the second round.

There was nothing quick about the second semifinal, which lasted 2 hours, 31 minutes and went well past the previous record of 71 aces, set earlier this year in a match between Nick Kyrgios and Ryan Harrison.

Isner was in good position to win in straight sets, taking a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker when Opelka pushed a forehand long. But he wasted a chance to win the match on his serve, and Opelka then kept erasing the rest of the match points when he served.

Isner had dropped both matches this season, part of a six-match skid dating to the end of last year, before winning his first two matches here in straight sets.

But he was stopped again by Opelka, who fell two aces shy of Ivo Karlovic’s record for most aces in a three-set match.

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Mertens upsets Halep in Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded Elise Mertens came from a set and a break down to beat recent No. 1 Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and capture the biggest title of her career on Saturday.

Halep led 6-3, 2-0, then lost a service game for a third time to see the second set back on serve. Mertens continued to pressure, missing two more break chances in the seventh game but finally breaking – to love – in the ninth. The set was the first Mertens took from Halep in three matchups.

Mertens broke again to start the third set, Halep leveled at 2-2, but Mertens finished stronger and won her fifth career title.

The Belgian beat two other top-10 players this week, Kiki Bertens and Angelique Kerber.

Halep’s first final appearance since August guaranteed she will rise one spot to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.