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Murray downs Bautista to claim third Shanghai crown

Andy Murray powered to a third Shanghai Masters title with a 7-6(1) 6-1 victory over Roberto Bautista. The Scot closed the gap to Novak Djokovic in the rankings to keep alive his hopes of ending the year as No. 1.

Spaniard Bautista challenged Murray with his powerful forehand and sharp angles in the first set, keeping the second-seeded Scot on the defensive and forcing him to commit errors.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Murray appeared distracted by movement in the crowd and wasted three set points before Bautista broke back to level the match.

Murray settled down in the tiebreaker, however, and closed out the second set in just 31 minutes. He had 16 unforced errors in the opening set, but only three after that.

"In the last few months, I have won a lot of matches and made improvements. I have been moving forward better and changed the direction of the ball better," Murray told reporters. "I have also come up with some bigger serves when I have needed them."

Bautista, the 15th-seed, upset Djokovic in the semifinals, but faced an uphill task to capture the title: No player outside the top 10 had beaten the top two ranked players in the same tournament since David Nalbandian knocked out Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to win the Paris Masters in 2007.

Plus, Bautista had to play Murray. And nobody is performing better on tour at the moment.

After triumphing at Wimbledon and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Murray hasn't let up this autumn: He hasn't lost a set in his last 10 matches in Asia, winning back-to-back titles at the China Open and in Shanghai.

Dominant force

His win on Sunday was also his 65th of the season (best on the tour) and gave him his sixth trophy (tying a career best).

With Federer injured, Nadal still trying to regain his form and confidence and Djokovic dealing with the effects of a mentally exhausting season, Murray has established himself as the dominant force in the game.

He is 915 points behind Serb Djokovic with three tournaments remaining and the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals could play a key role in deciding the year-end number one.

"My goal wasn't to finish number one at the end of this year but in the early parts of next year there is an opportunity -- 900 points doesn't seem like loads," Murray added. "But Novak will win matches. He is the best player in the world. I don't think he has lost an indoor game in a long time."

idr/AP/Reuters

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