Novak Djokovic put a swift end to rival Rafael Nadal’s 30-match hardcourt win streak Sunday defeating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 to win his fourth career title in Beijing.
“I needed this win today,” said Djokovic who hadn’t won a title since upending Nadal in Monte Carlo. “I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013. It’s very important for my confidence. It’s very important mentally and emotionally for me.”
Djokovic ran his record to 19-0 in Beijing, also winning the title in 2009 (d. Cilic), 2010 (d. Ferrer) and 2012 (d. Tsonga). The win was the 38th of his career, 4th this season.
“It’s been an incredible week again for me at the China Open,” said Djokovic. “I still haven’t lost a match here. I just love the conditions. I love the court and the atmosphere that goes around the tournament. Centre court is exceptional, and I enjoy it. I try to cherish every moment that I spend here every year.”
Nadal, who was a perfect 26-0 this year on hardcourts, had won his last three against the Serb since losing in Monte Carlo (still leads 22-16 overall), but was unable to muster even a break point on the day.
“I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon,” said Nadal. “This afternoon he was too strong for me. I didn’t play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve.
“I was not able to have any chance when I was returning during the whole match. He had the ball staying very low. It was very difficult to create spin on this ball. He was able to hit all the balls where he wanted. When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead. You don’t have not one chance.”
Nadal will return to the No. 1 ranking tomorrow.
In Tokyo, Juan Martin Del Potro avenged a controversial loss to Milos Raonic in Montreal by beating the Canadian 7-6, 7-5 for his third title of the 2013 season.
“I played really well in the last two games of the match, returning all of his first serves,” said del Potro. “It was a fantastic week for me as I played better and better with each match.”
The win for Del Potro also moves the Argentine back into the Top 5 rankings. Facing one of the biggest serves in tennis, Del Potro knew the margin for error was small.
“You have to be focused and wait for the chance,” Del Potro said. “I took his serve in the second to last game to break. In the tie-break, he hit a double fault in the most important part of the match and then my chance came, which I knew I had to take.
“I did what I could to win. When he serves well and hits aces, it means I have to be aggressive on serve. I threw in drop shots and came to the net to mix up my game.”
Del Potro interview:
Raonic, who was a Tokyo finalist last year, still improved his chances to make London.
“I think I am doing a lot of things better week in week out,” said Raonic. “I can play a good level, but I just need to improve on a consistent basis. There is work to be done.”
All four players now head to the Shanghai Masters which begins today.
The Beijing women’s title went to Serena Williams who beat Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-2 to win her 56th career WTA title.
“I’m really excited – I didn’t think I’d win this tournament starting out, so I’m really happy to be here holding the trophy,” Serena told the crowd. “Congratulations to Jelena for such a great tournament as well.
“I really love tennis so much and it’s fans like the ones here in China who are so exciting to come to. The fans make me want to play, they’re so great here, so coming here is such a great opportunity.”
Serena now has 10 titles on the season and 73 match wins overall.
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