Murray stopped at third
ANDY Murray failed in his bid to make it a hat-trick of titles at the Shanghai Masters after losing a three-set thriller to Novak Djokovic.
In their first meeting since Murray's win in the US Open final, Djokovic triumphed 5-7 7-6 (13-11) 6-3.
Murray edged the first set, which had seven breaks of serve, with Djokovic reacting angrily by smashing a racket.
Djokovic saved five match points in the second set before taking the tie-break and breaking Murray twice in the third.
In a top-class match, the British world number three showed plenty of the form he displayed in beating world number one Roger Federer in Saturday's semi-finals but Djokovic - who had lost his last two matches against the Scot, at Flushing Meadows and in the Olympic semi-final at Wimbledon - threw everything at him.
The second set was packed with drama, with Murray breaking to lead 4-3 and serving for the match at 5-4. But having saved his first match point, Djokovic levelled the set and then saved four more in a tie-break lasting more than 20 minutes, sealing the set with a volley that led to fist-pumping celebrations.
With the momentum in his favour, Djokovic broke to go 4-3 up in the decider and broke Murray again in the ninth game when the Scot went long with a backhand.
It ended Murray's winning run in Shanghai and gave Djokovic his fifth title of the year.
It was a thrilling match [and] very long," said the Serb. "Three and a half hours for best of three is quite long. But I have got used to it. Whenever I play Andy, I know it's going to be a gruelling fight with a lot of long rallies. It could have gone either way. I could not say I dominated the match because all three sets were very close and he had some match points. I could have easily been a runner-up today but I'm very proud of my fight."
Murray said he was disappointed but paid tribute to Djokovic.
"I've lost tougher matches than that before and I'm sure I will recover," he said. "But it was a top-quality match. Both of us played some unbelievable tennis at times.
"It was literally the difference of one, two centimetres [between] winning the match and losing it. You have to put things into perspective. It was obviously a bit frustrating but it was so close and could have been a different outcome.
"The third set, he played better than me. When I had my chances he served very well and hit the lines when he needed to.
"Most of our games have been tight, close matches but I feel like my game is there."