World number one Novak Djokovic sped into the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Feliciano Lopez in just 71 minutes on Thursday as he continued his magical run in China.
As Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga toiled, the unstoppable Serb dominated Spain’s Lopez as he brought up his 14th win in a row including a winning streak of 16 straight sets.
A magical backhand lob to break for 3-1 in the second set underlined the current superiority of Djokovic, who won his sixth China Open title last week and has won 70 and lost only five matches this year.
“There is no secret. I guess it depends how do you feel on a given day, depends how well your opponent is playing, how well you’re playing. It’s a combination of things,” said the two-time Shanghai champion.
“You can’t just expect to win all the time very comfortably, but I’ve been doing so for the last week-and-a-half. Obviously it’s giving me more confidence. Any time I come back to the court, I feel good and I start off well.”
Djokovic’s current unbeaten run stretches back to the Cincinnati Masters final in August and with his win in Beijing, he became the first man to top $15 million in prize money in a single year.
He said there was still room for improvement despite putting together what he calls his best season yet, after winning three out of four Grand Slam finals to reach a career total of 10.
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“I think it’s a combination of… maintaining the high level, the performance, the tennis I have right now, and also working on certain parts of the game that I think can be improved,” he said.
“I was brought up that way and thought to always look for some room for improvement. I still believe there are shots in my game that can be better. I think that’s one of the things that keeps me going.
It motivates me to play more.”
Albert Ramos came through qualifying before he stunned defending champion Roger Federer in the second round – but Tsonga proved a match too far.
However, the 27-year-old Spaniard gave the mercurial Frenchman a massive scare when he took the first set before going down fighting 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 45 minutes.
Later, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson ousted Kei Nishikori when he edged the Japanese sixth seed in two tight sets, 7-6 (12/10), 7-6 (7/3).
Andy Murray fought back from a set down to edge past John Isner and reach the Shanghai Rolex Masters quarter-finals.
The British number one dropped the first set on a tie-break before being run close by the 30-year-old American and holding on to record a 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-4 victory.
The 28-year-old took his record to 5-0 against his big-hitting opponent to set up a last-eight clash with the winner of the match between Gilles Simon and Tomas Berdych.
With the score level at 4-4 in the first set after Murray had won 91 per cent of service points, the Scot won the next game before the American again levelled.
The 2013 Wimbledon champion clinched the 11th game and broke his opponent in the next but could not see it out as Isner forced a tie-break.
The American got the edge over Murray following a great rally as he went 3-1 up in the tie break – with the Scot attempting a fightback to reduce the score to 5-4 down following an error – before Isner held on to take the first set 7-6.
Isner produced an unusual double-handed volley at the net to clinch a point on his way to taking the first game of the second set, much to the crowd’s amusement.
Murray, who had won all four previous matches between the two, held serve to level despite getting frustrated with numerous errors on the way.
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The next game went to deuce before the under-pressure Isner edged ahead and the world number two scraped level again despite a brilliant point from the American, who forced Murray to send the ball out from the net in an entertaining game.
Murray was unhappy with a decision at the end of the fifth game, calling Isner’s shot short, and the Scot had words with the umpire as the games continued to go with serve until Murray broke his opponent in the ninth game and take a 5-4 lead.
The British number one served for the second set and clinched it after being held at break point to level the match and force a decider.
With both players showing signs of frustration, the first two games of the third set went with serve, a strong Murray forehand helping him clinch the second.
Murray took the next to deuce, sitting on break point twice before a great backhand from Isner helped keep the American on track as he went 2-1 up, while the next three games also went with serve.
Looking for his 36th title, the Scot dipped a looping shot over Isner as he broke in the seventh and the world number two went in front before his opponent slipped and fell to the deck on break point in the eighth as Murray’s pressure paid off for a 5-3 lead.
Isner held serve in the ninth while Murray did enough in his next service game to wrap up the win as Isner’s shot found the net.
Andy Murray is safely through to the last 16 of the Shanghai Rolex Masters after a routine straight sets victory over American Steve Johnson.
The Briton looked comfortable in his first appearance since guiding Great Britain into the Davis Cup final breaking Johnson's serve twice in the first set – the second break clinching the set 6-2.
– Shanghai Masters: Federer crashes out in second round
The American world number 47 managed to hold his serve until the Scot broke it in the final game of the set to take it 6-4 and seal his place in the next round.
Murray will now face 13th seed John Isner who fired down 21 aces on his way to a 6-3 7-6 (7/5) victory over Belgium's David Goffin. The 6ft 10ins American did not face a single break point despite the Belgian forcing a tie-break in the second set.
Sixth seed Kei Nishikori came back from a set down to beat Australian Nick Kyrgios 1-6 6-4 6-4 in their second round clash.
Nishikori, who entered the contest after a first round bye, looked rusty in the early proceedings as he was broken in his very first service game.
Kyrgios ruthlessly capitalised, racing to a 5-0 lead before serving out for the first set. But the Japanese 25-year-old grew in confidence and took advantage of Kyrgios' heated exchange with the umpire after a line call at the end of the second set.
The final set went with serve until Nishikori broke in the 10th game and he went on to clinch a spot in the last 16.
Australian world number 20 Bernard Tomic capitalised on a lacklustre performance from seventh seed David Ferrer to earn a 6-4 6-2 win. Tomic raced into a 5-0 lead in the first set before Ferrer broke back in the seventh and ninth games. But Tomic managed to serve out the set and go on to progress into the last 16.
Elsewhere US Open quarter-finalist Kevin Anderson booked his place in the third round with 6-3 7-6 (7/1) victory over Italy's Fabio Fognini.