Novak Djokovic lost his top ranking to the resurgent Rafael Nadal, but quickly gained some consolation with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the Spaniard to claim the China Open on Sunday for the fourth time in five years.
Nadal was assured of replacing Djokovic atop the rankings by reaching the final in Beijing.
But the Serb proved too much for Nadal, breaking him in the second game of the first set and again in the first game of the second. He racked up four aces to Nadal’s two and claimed 19 winners to the Spaniard’s nine.
“I needed this win today. I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013,” said Djokovic, who had lost their last three meetings, including the one at the U.S. Open.
Djokovic credited his almost flawless serve for the win this time, as well as his ability to keep calm. He said playing doubles also helped, both in sharpening his game and building his confidence.
“Its crucial to get that necessary confidence when you’re playing top guys, somebody like Nadal, who loves to get into the rally, loves to be in his comfort zone and I was always trying to move him around the court and I’ve done pretty well,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is yet to lose a match in Beijing.
Nadal, the reigning French Open and U.S. Open champion, has had a dominant year since returning in February from a seven-month layoff due to a left knee injury. He has won 10 titles and reached 12 finals overall, compiling an ATP Tour-best record of 65-3.
Beijing also marked Nadal’s only loss on hard courts, a defeat he put down to Djokovic’s serve.
“I was not able to get any chance while I was returning through the whole match,” Nadal said. “When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead.”
Devvarman fails to qualify
Somdev Devvarman lost to Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 7-6, 6-0 in the final qualifying round of the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters tournament on Sunday. The first set took 51 minutes, while the second took just 21 minutes to complete in a match that went on for one hour and 12 minutes.
Devvarman had earlier beaten China’s Siyu Liu 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in the previous qualifying round.
The results: At Beijing (China Open): Men’s singles final: Novak Djokovic bt Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4.
Women’s singles final: Serena Williams bt Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-2.
At Shanghai (Shanghai Masters): Men’s singles: First round: Lukas Rosol bt Julien Benneteau 6-3, 1-6, 6-3; Carlos Berlocq bt Dmitry Tursunov 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; Florian Mayer bt Wu Di 6-3, 6-3; Pablo Andujar bt Mikhail Youzhny 5-2 retired.