SHANGHAI, Oct 15, (Agencies): Andy Murray blasted his way into the Shanghai Masters final on Saturday but holder Novak Djokovic angrily smashed his racquet and ripped his shirt as he crashed out to Roberto Bautista.
Murray was made to work in a rollercoaster first set against Gilles Simon featuring seven breaks of serve, 37-shot rallies and bursts of irritable chatter from the Scot.
But he came through 6-4, 6-3 to set up a final against Spain’s Bautista, who extended top-ranked Djokovic’s miserable run of form with a thrilling win against the Serb.
The defending champion and 12-time Grand Slam winner was broken four times and repeatedly lost his temper as he went down 6-4, 6-4, much to the dismay of his army of Chinese fans.
The world number one has been nosediving since he won his first French Open title in June, losing early at Wimbledon and the Olympics and complaining he had lost motivation.
And Djokovic, a three-time champion in Shanghai, lost his cool in a stormy appearance at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Tennis Centre as his slump in form continued.
Djokovic admitted he “didn’t feel good” mentally and he lashed out at Brazilian chair umpire Carlos Bernardes, who he had also targeted during the match.
“I just don’t understand, you know, the decisions that he has made,” Djokovic grumbled.
“When you go to change your racquet, I went to change my (ripped) shirt and then he gives me a warning. Well, he was the star of the show. That’s what he wanted to be today.”
Nineteenth-ranked Bautista put away two brilliant forehands as he fought off break points in the ninth game, and he then pounced as Djokovic was serving to stay in the first set.
A sublime disguised lob set up break point and when Djokovic fired wide to hand over the set, he snapped and repeatedly slammed his racquet into the deck.
Djokovic grabbed a towel and cleaned up his racquet splinters as the second set got underway, but tempers frayed again at 1-1 over a serve he felt was long.
“Are you seeing anything today? Are you seeing anything?” fumed the Serb, gesticulating at Bernardes.
Then Djokovic, angry at failing to secure a break point in game five, petulantly tore his shirt at the neck and went to change it mid-game, receiving a time violation warning.
They exchanged breaks before Djokovic was broken again to be left staring at defeat — only to save three match points before getting it back on serve in a tense game nine.
But a forehand into the net brought up a fourth match point on his own serve, and this time Bautista grabbed the opportunity as he arrowed a pass down the line.
Later, Murray was broken in the very first game in a warning that he wouldn’t have it all his own way against Simon, despite his 14-2 record against the Frenchman.
Murray became irritated with line-calls and spectators moving in the stands before he broke for the set by sending a Simon lob straight back over the Frenchman’s head.
Victory was a formality when Murray went two breaks up in the second set, and he served it out after 103 minutes to set up an attempt at a third Shanghai title in Sunday’s final.
In Hong Kong, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki fought her way to the Hong Kong Open finals Saturday after beating defending champion Jelena Jankovic.
The currently 22nd-ranked Wozniacki will face France’s Kristina Mladenovic, ranked 54, on Sunday.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a new day tomorrow and I’m going to do my best,” Wozniacki, 26, told reporters.
“She played really well today so I was really pleased with the way I managed to still win this match in two sets,” she said of Jankovic.
Serbian Jankovic, ranked 37, had a strong start but Wozniacki quickly took the lead in the middle of the first set and won the match 6-3, 6-4.
Jankovic, also a former world number one, fought hard after falling four games behind in the second set, with the crowds cheering her on.
Many in the stadium gave a standing ovation when Jankovic walked off the court.
In another hard fought match, Australian player Daria Gavrilova, ranked 38 in the world, lost to France’s Mladenovic 7-5, 6-3.
Gavrilova was visibly upset, and threw her racket onto the ground in frustration during contested games in the second set, which was played in the heat of the afternoon sun.
“I think it was a big fight out there,” Mladenovic, 23, told reporters after the match.
Many were shocked on Friday when Gavrilova eliminated top ranked Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Kerber, who is leading the way to the WTA finals in Singapore, said after her Friday defeat that the game was not her best and that she was looking forward to some rest.
“I’ve been playing a lot of matches this year, and I think I need a few days off to get ready for Singapore,” she said.
In Linz, Austria, Dominika Cibulkova reached her sixth final of the season by defeating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-3 at the Generali Ladies on Saturday.
The 10th-ranked Slovak will play Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in Sunday’s final.
Golubic advanced after third-seeded Madison Keys pulled out of the event hours before their semifinal. Tournament organizers said the seventh-ranked American had a cold.
On Friday, the 62nd-ranked Golubic won her quarterfinal against top-seeded Garbine Muguruza after the French Open champion sprained her left ankle and retired at 4-4 in the final set.
Enjoying the most successful season of her career, Cibulkova won titles in Katowice in April and Eastbourne in June, and reached three more finals. She is ninth in the race to the season-ending WTA Finals, with two of the eight spots still open.
Cibulkova has not played before against Golubic, who will appear in her second career final after winning on home soil in Gstaad in July.
Cibulkova won the first seven points and took a 2-0 lead against the 12th-ranked Suarez Navarro, but neither player managed to hold serve for the rest of the opening set.
Suarez Navarro, who was playing in her fourth semifinal of the season, used a break to go 2-1 up in the second before losing four games in a row. Cibulkova missed three match points before closing out the win as Suarez Navarro hit a forehand wide.