Djoko: This is the best tennis era of all time

World number two Novak Djokovic thinks the quality in tennis at the moment could be better than at any other time in its history.

The Serbian was graceful in defeat.

By Staff

Djokovic was speaking after winning the Shanghai Rolex Masters - a triumph that hugely boosted his chances of finishing as the world's top player for the second year running.

The Serb saved five match points against Andy Murray in a three-set classic that once again highlighted the sheer brilliance of the men at the very top of the game. This year the top four - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have split the Grand Slams while Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have won all eight of the ATP 1000 Masters tournament played so far.

After Federer-Nadal and Nadal-Djokovic, it's the Djokovic-Murray rivalry that seems to be taking shape - with the two also meeting in the US Open final last month. Murray won that match in another enthralling five-setter. Asked if he thought the Brit was still chasing him, Djokovic said: "Well, as I said, I think we split three wins both this year. 

"So, yeah, I won in Australia, he won in US Open, he won in Olympic Games. I mean, we get to play these big matches and we put up a show for people. It's exciting to be part of such an extraordinary rivalry, extraordinary matches, especially with somebody that you grew up with and you know for a long time.

"I can't really say who is the chaser. I think we both focus on our careers individually and we both try to improve each day. His example is the right example of how an athlete seeks to improve always and to get better. 

"This is great. It's great for the sport. I think we're experiencing maybe the best era of all times."

On a personal note, Djokovic brushed aside suggestions that his inability to replicate an incredible 2011 had seen some confidence seep out of his game.

"I've had an unbelievable season. Comparing to 2011, results‑wise maybe wasn't at the top, because I had three Grand Slam titles, this year I have only one. But I've had an incredible year. We have to pay a little bit of respect to the other players. They've had an amazing year also.

"At this level you cannot expect to win all the matches. With this Asian swing so far, maybe comparing to 2011 also it's one of the best years I've had in my life. So I'm enjoying this moment. I'm enjoying every match that I play against them.

"Over the course of a couple of years before 2011, I was losing most of my matches against top guys, especially important matches. Then that changed. 2011 I won basically all the matches I played against them.

"This year, it's quite even with all of them. I'm enjoying my time. I'm playing well and I have confidence."

Djokovic's win in Shanghai means he is almost certain to overtake Federer as the world number one before the year end and the 25-year-old admitted finishing on top is one of his aims.

"It's my biggest objective in this moment. It's something I'm aiming for. Obviously this is going to be a huge confidence boost and also is going to help me in the race for No.1," he said.

"As I said, it's still not done. I still have to play well indoors."

Djokovic is scheduled to play in the BNP Paribas Masters next before participating in the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London early next month.

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