Tennis

Novak Djokovic crushes Rafael Nadal in China final

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Novak Djokovic maintained his perfect record at the China Open, dispatching Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-2 to lift his sixth title at the Chinese capital.

The world No. 1, who reached the final without dropping a set, was once again in ominous mood as he broke the Nadal serve four times and struck seven aces and 23 winners to close out the win in 91 minutes. He now owns a 29-0 mark at the competition.

A runners-up finish for Nadal gave further impetus to his prospects of qualifying for the World Tour Finals and allowed him to leapfrog Kei Nishikori into the sixth spot in the ATP Race to London.

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The Serb, meanwhile, pocketed another 500 points and narrowed his head-to-head deficit against the Spaniard to 22-23. He added another trophy to his already glittering season which also features three grand slams and four Masters 1000 Series titles.

Djokovic was in business straight away as he broke Nadal in the first game and opened up a quick 3-1 lead. He staved off two break points in the sixth game and then went on to break the Spaniard’s serve once more as he comfortably served out the first set to claim it 6-2.

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Clearly struggling to come to grips with the level of his opponent, Nadal was forced to dig in his heels as Djokovic came out blazing in the second set too and captured an early break to go 2-1 up.

Nadal’s plight was further exacerbated with a leg injury which followed the third game of the set, forcing him to take a medical timeout.

From there on, it was only a matter of time before the five-time champion romped to victory as a combination of thumping winners and a resilient baseline defence enabled him to go double-break up. He served out the match to record his sixth triumph over Nadal in the pair’s last seven meetings.

Djokovic said after the match: “The scoreline, especially in the first set, doesn't indicate the real battle that we had on the court.

“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.”

Despite the defeat, Nadal put a positive spin on his overall performance during the week and thinks he is not that far away from reaching his best form.

He said: “I'm very happy the way that I played this week, especially because I was able to improve every single match.

“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 now head to Shanghai to compete in the Shanghai Masters 1000 event. The Serb has already secured the status of finishing the year at top spot and will by vying to equal his own record of winning five Masters 1000 titles in a calendar year. Nadal, meanwhile, will look to confirm his qualification at the season-ending finale.

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Topics:
Tennis
Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic

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