Nikolay Davydenko won the inaugural Shanghai Masters title in 2009, and it was all about Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray after that. Two coevals claimed six of the next seven editions of the season's penultimate Masters 1000 tournament to stand as the most successful players.
Andy lifted the trophy in 2010 and 2011 and bounced back in 2016 to claim the third crown, defeating the first-time Masters 1000 finalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 6-1 in an hour and 37 minutes. Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka lost before the quarter-final stage, and it should have been the battle between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, just like in the entire 2016 season.
Novak had a significant lead on the ATP ranking list over Murray after winning Roland Garros. Still, Andy was a player to beat in the second part of the season, conquering nine tournaments and finishing the year with 24 straight wins and the year-end no.
1 honor. Kicking off the Shanghai campaign with three commanding wins, Murray got broken four times against Gilles Simon in the semi-final. Still, he closed the match in straight sets after an excellent performance on the return, having an open way towards the title when Roberto Bautista Agut stunned Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in the semi-final.
It was their third meeting and the third win for Andy, who broke the rival's resistance in the second set and sailed towards the title, his 13th at the Masters 1000 level. The Briton served at only 52% and kept his second serve safe, suffering two breaks and stealing the rival's serve on four occasions to emerge as a winner.
Murray tamed his shots more efficiently, hitting more winners and fewer unforced errors and having the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range rallies. Bautista Agut stayed in touch in the longest points, and despite a great effort in the opener, he failed to deliver his best tennis in the breaker, which turned out to be the pivotal moment of the entire encounter.
We saw six straight holds without any chance for returners at the beginning of the match, with Andy scoring a break at 3-3 to move ahead after Roberto's backhand error.
The Briton held after a service winner to increase his lead to 5-3 and had three set points on serve in the tenth game to bring the opener home. Bautista Agut fended them off and broke back with a forehand winner to level the score at 5-5, prolong the set and gain a massive boost.
Carried by this momentum, the Spaniard fired another forehand winner in game 11 to move ahead, forcing Andy to serve for staying in the set. In a manner of a true champion, Murray fired four winners to introduce a tie break and grabbed seven straight points to clinch it with a return winner after a grueling 64 minutes.
Andy held in the second set's first game with an ace and broke Roberto at love in game two after the Spaniard's backhand error. In the third game, Murray sprayed a forehand error to lose serve and regained composure a few minutes later to control the scoreboard again.
The Briton grabbed a break after the Spaniard's double fault, moved 4-1 ahead with a service winner and secured another break in game six. Murray moved over the top after a smash winner at 5-1, celebrating his third Shanghai crown and clinching the 54th win in the last 59th matches to close the gap to Novak Djokovic in a battle for the ATP throne.