Novak Djokovic on song to complete China Open hat-trick
TOP-SEEDED Novak Djokovic extended his perfect record at the China Open when he defeated third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in the final.
In the women’s event, top seed Victoria Azarenka won her fifth title of the year by dominating second-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-1. It was the third time this year that Azarenka has beaten Sharapova after victories at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
Djokovic has won the Beijing tournament on all three occasions he has entered, beating Marin Cilic in the 2009 final and David Ferrer in 2010. He has a 14-0 record at the tournament. The Serb has won 65 matches this season, the most wins by any player on the ATP tour.
During the award ceremony Djokovic celebrated with the ball boys and girls by dancing to Gangnam Style, the popular single by Korean rapper Psy. “The song is quite catchy so I might do it again,” Djokovic said.
Tsonga went 3-2 ahead in the opening set but Djokovic immediately broke back. Djokovic led the tiebreaker 5-4 when Tsonga lost his next two serves, double faulting and dropping a backhand volley into the net. “The first set was really even and just a couple of points decided the winner,” Djokovic said. “When you’re getting to the second set with a set advantage, mentally it is much more encouraging.”
Tied at 1-1 in the second, Djokovic won the next four games before Tsonga held serve and Djokovic served out the match. “It was really difficult to control him,” Tsonga said. “Against a player like this, for the moment my level is not high enough.”
Sharapova struggled with Azarenka’s power throughout the one hour, 28-minute match and also served six double faults in the opening set, but cut back to only one double fault in the second. Azarenka raced to a 4-0 lead in both sets, with Sharapova only managing to hold her serve twice in the match – in the seventh game of the first set and the sixth game of the second. “I was doing the right things to not let Maria play her game that she likes, you know to always be in control,” Azarenka said. “For the most part I was trying to keep up with her rhythm and, when I had a chance, to step it up.”
In Tokyo, Kei Nishikori was crowned the first home winner of the Japan Open following a three-set win over sixth seed Milos Raonic in yesterday’s final.
The eighth seed from Matsue emerged with a 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-0 victory in just over two hours to claim his second career ATP title.
“I have not been able to play well in Japan until now, so I always thought perhaps I was not mentally strong enough to do so,” said Nishikori, whose last ATP crown came at Delray Beach back in February 2008. “On one side of my mind, I cannot believe I won the tournament, but at the same time, I feel that I’m happy I was able to do this.”
The home favourite raced to a 3-1 lead in the opening set and although Raonic fought back, Nishikori held his nerve to win the tie-break.
Raonic broke Nishikori in the eighth game of the second to win the set, but the world number 17 cleaned up in the third.
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