World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is keeping pace with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and the possibility of claiming the No. 1 ranking by the end of the claycourt season, on Sunday winning his hometown title at the Serbia Open in Belgrade with a 7-6(4), 6-2 win over Spaniard Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez.
The title lifted Djokovic’s win-loss record on the year to 27-0, the best season start by a player since Ivan Lendl began the 1986 year 29-0.
“You people make it worth it to come back to this city and play and hope for the victories,” Djokovic told the Serbian crowd following the win.
The 23-year-old Djokovic won his fifth title of the year after the Australian Open (d. Andy Murray in the final), Dubai (d. Roger Federer), and Indian Wells and Miami where he defeated Nadal in the final.
Lopez dropped to 2-5 in career finals.
In the Sunday final of the BMW Open by FWU Takaful in Munich, world No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko topped German No. 1 Florian Mayer 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 for his first title of the year, making nine consecutive years with at least one title for the Russian.
The 29-year-old Davydenko entered the event outside the Top 30 after a wrist injury last year saw his ranking plummet. This year he has a 13-9 win-loss following the Munich run.
“I haven’t played that well for a long time,” Davydenko said. “I think I will have to come back.”
Mayer dropped to 0-4 in career finals.
Comeback player Juan Martin Del Potro, contesting his first claycourt tournament for 23 months after a wrist injury, won his ninth career title on Sunday at the Estoril Open, soundly beating Spain’s Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco 6-2, 6-2.
Del Potro has won 23 of his last 26 matches, earlier in the year claiming the hardcourt title in Delray Beach, Fla. He improved to 9-3 in career finals.
“This is a great victory, it’s unbelievable to win on clay. It’s something I never expected so soon,” said Del Potro, who says his wrist is still not 100 percent. “It’s almost fine, it’s getting better. When the weather is humid I feel something, But the doctors say that’s normal. It’s getting better faster than we expected. I’ve stopped worrying about my injury. It’s just a little pain, but it does not stop me wanting to win. That’s more important than any pain.”
Verdasco, who beat Del Potro earlier in the year on hardcourts at San Jose, found the Argentine a different animal on clay.
“I didn’t have many chances to put him in trouble,” Verdasco said. “It was hard, he was hitting the ball hard and deep. It was difficult to be offensive. I didn’t play my best game.”
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