Djokovic Claims Sixth Beijing Crown
No player has enjoyed a more dominant start at an ATP World Tour event than Novak Djokovic at the China Open, and the World No. 1 extended his ruthless run with a sixth title on Sunday. Djokovic's winning streak in Beijing reached 29 straight wins as he turned aside rival Rafael Nadal for the second time in three years in the final. He triumphed 6-2, 6-2 in 91 minutes.
"The scoreline, especially in the first set, doesn't indicate the real battle that we had on the court," said Djokovic. "I'm aware of the fact that very few points can decide a winner of the matches I play against the biggest rivals, and Rafa is definitely one of them. He's the kind of player that is a champion and understands the kind of challenge that a big match presents. He knows how to play on the big stage for the titles. He has won so many.
"That's why I didn't want to give him an opportunity to come back to the match and eventually start playing better to dominate the rallies... This positive week definitely encourages me and gives me a lot of confidence for Shanghai."
The Serb has won seven of eight FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters against the Spaniard, including the 2013 Beijing final. He also edged closer to Nadal in their overall series, now trailing 22-23. Djokovic brings home 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $654,725, in capturing his 56th tour-level trophy. He is 68-5 in 2015, including a stunning 23-4 mark against Top 10 opponents.
Nadal got off to a slow start under the lights at the National Tennis Center in the Chinese capital and Djokovic would pounce immediately. The top seed converted on his first break point in the opening game and consolidated for a quick 2-0 advantage. A more aggressive Nadal would settle in as the first set progressed, with the pair trading baseline blows. The Spaniard had his chance to break back in the sixth game, but let two break points slip away. Djokovic's trademark defensive tenacity was on full display as he pressed for a second break. In one sensational point, Nadal tracked down a drop shot and scampered back to the baseline to as the Serb sent a lob over his head. The Spaniard replied with a tweener which Djokovic turned aside into the open court. He would claim the break three points later for 5-2 and closed out the set in 41 minutes.
Hampered by an apparent leg ailment, Nadal would call for the trainer midway through the third game of the second set. Smelling blood and sensing the finish line was not far off, Djokovic broke immediately for 2-1. He would race to a double break lead two games later and did not look back, surging to the title. The World No. 1 struck 23 winners, including seven aces.
Nadal fell to 67-30 in tour-level finals, taking home $295,180 and 300 points in the Emirates ATP Race To London. The Spaniard has bumped Kei Nishikori for the sixth position among the eight players bidding to reach the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He owns 3,970 points in total.
"I'm very happy the way that I played this week, especially because I was able to improve every single match," said Nadal. "Especially in the quarter-finals after that first set against Sock, I changed that dynamic. I played closer to the baseline. Yesterday I played a good match and today I played a good match."
Both Djokovic and Nadal will next head south for the eighth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year, in Shanghai. The Serb has already secured his place at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, while Nadal continues his quest for a berth in the season finale.