World No. 1 Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a 34th ATP Masters 1000 crown on Thursday by reaching the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
The four-time champion broke down No. 16 seed Isner’s big game in a five-game sequence that propelled him to a 7-5, 6-3 victory over 75 minutes.
Djokovic is now 48-8 on the season and 1,280 points behind Rafael Nadal (9,225) in the 2019 ATP Race To London and the battle for year-end No. 1. The Serbian will now prepare to face sixth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is next in line to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in November, or Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.
Djokovic was left frustrated by not making an early breakthrough, but consistent groundstroke depth saw him break Isner’s serve to love in the 12th game.
Djokovic won 20 of 25 points from 5-5 in the first set to a 3-0 advantage in the second set and, in losing just five of his first-service points overall (36/41), left Isner with few options to get back into the encounter.
Isner struck nine aces and passed 1,000 aces for the fifth straight season.
Djokovic, who captured the 76th trophy of his career at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships (d. Millman) on Sunday, has now won 14 sets in a row. Isner, the Hall of Fame Open titlist (d. Bublik) in July, drops to a 30-17 match record in 2019.