After having suffered a few setbacks to Rafael Nadal over the year, outgoing World No.1 Novak Djokovic beat his adversary 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the China Open in Beijing. In the process, Djokovic wrapped up his fourth China Open crown.
The defending champion stretched his unbeaten run at the event to 19 matches as he put on an imperious display of tennis to comprehensively outplay the form player of the season and dish out a first defeat on hardcourts to Nadal this year in the 38th meeting between the pair.
Djokovic started off impressively and never took his foot off the gas; he raced away to a 3-0 lead early in the first set inside 10 minutes. Led by some excellent power-hitting from the back of the court, Djokovic wrapped the first set in quick time in just 25 minutes, serving it out to take the set 6-3.
The first game of the second set was the highlight of the match. Nadal, serving ahead, was eager to not fall behind early on in the second set and Djokovic had no intentions of letting up. Both of them engaged in some high-quality rallies that saw both players show incredible movement in covering every corner of the court to retrieve their opponents’ shots. There was even some delightful net play from both. Ultimately though, it was Djokovic who managed to put enough pressure on Nadal to force the early break.
That break was enough as Djokovic went on to consolidate and hold his serve from then on, losing just four points on his own delivery, to emerge victorious in one hour and 27 minutes.
The Serb did not face a single point during the entirety of the final.
The win for Djokovic ended a run of three straight defeats against Nadal (French Open, Montreal, US Open). It also ended a 22-match winning streak for Nadal on hardcourts as he had been unbeaten this whole year. It was also just his fourth loss of the year, with his last loss being to Belgian Steve Darcis in the first round of Wimbledon.
While Nadal had already reclaimed the No.1 ranking by virtue of making the final, Djokovic through the victory sent a clear message that he was not going anywhere soon.
The two players will be the top seeds again at next week’s penultimate Masters 1000 event in Shanghai and the odds are high that the two could once again meet in the final for a 39th meeting overall.