Andy Murray passed up five match points before losing out 5-7 7-6 6-3 to Novak Djokovic in a thrilling final at the Shanghai Masters.
The first set saw both men struggle to hold serve, with the decisive break coming in the 12th game as Murray forced Djokovic into a crucial error to put himself on course for a third successive Shanghai triumph.
The second set also seemed to be going Murray's way as he broke in game seven before holding to go 5-3 up.
However, he could not close things out as Djokovic broke back and forced as tie-break, which he eventually took 13-11 after saving five match points in a toe-to-toe struggle.
Murray then cracked in game seven of the decider and Djokovic showed no mercy as he broke again to seal the victory after well over three hours of action.
Djokovic, the defending champion, is 2.62 to win the Australian Open in early 2013, with Murray 3.00 and world number one Roger Federer 5.50.
Murray's loss denied Great Britain of a notable double after Heather Watson had won the singles title at the Japan Open by beating Chang Kai-chen 7-5 5-7 7-6.
Watson was later denied in a bid to secure a double of her own, as she and partner Kimiko Date-Krumm lost 6-1 6-4 to USA duo Abigail Spears and Raquel Kops-Jones in the doubles final in Osaka.