Novak Djokovic is within touching distance of Rafael Nadal’s number one ranking after winning the Shanghai Masters with a commanding 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 smashing victory.
The end was however anti-climactic, with the Serb winning the championship point after a video review, Coric having challenged the call.
Djokovic will now 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.
Speaking after the match, the combative Serb said the last four months had been “fantastic” and “tremendous”.
“I’m cherishing every moment of it,” he told the crowd, calling Shanghai “a special place” to him.
“I am very close now to Nadal in the rankings and put myself in a good position for the last period of the year.”
This was a fourth Shanghai crown for Djokovic and he is homing in on a return to number one, having fallen as low as 22nd in May as he struggled following elbow surgery in February.