Novak Djokovic retains China Open title, beating Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final
Nadal had toppled Serbian from world No. 1 ranking by reaching the title match
Djokovic gets revenge for his defeat by Nadal in last month's U.S. Open final
Serena Williams wins 56th title of her career, beating Jelena Jankovic in women's final
Novak Djokovic may have surrendered his No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal, but he was not about to tighten his grip on the China Open title.
Nadal ended the Serbian’s 11-month reign at the top by reaching Sunday’s final, but could not stop Djokovic winning in Beijing for the fourth time in five years.
“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,” the 26-year-old said.
“It’s very important for my confidence. It’s very important mentally and emotionally for me.”
Djokovic has yet to taste defeat at the tournament, having not taken part in 2011 due to injury.
“I still haven’t lost a match here. I just love the conditions,” he said.
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“I love the court and the atmosphere that goes around the tournament. Center court is exceptional, and I enjoy it. I try to cherish every moment that I spend here every year.”
Djokovic is still hoping to be the ATP Tour’s year-end No. 1 for the third successive time, but he faces a tough task to displace Nadal – who has won two grand slams this year after returning from long-term knee problems in February.
Nadal had been on a 22-match winning streak since his shock first-round defeat at Wimbledon, and had beaten Djokovic three times in a row including last month’s U.S. Open final to take his career advantage to 22-15.
“I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon,” the 13-time grand slam champion said. “He was too strong for me. I didn’t play my best match, but he played at a very high level with his serve.
Read: Nadal wins second U.S. Open title
“I was not able to have any chance when I was returning during the whole match. He had the ball staying very low. It was very difficult to create spin on this ball. He was able to hit all the balls where he wanted. When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead. You don’t have one chance.”
Both players will next move on to Shanghai, where Djokovic will be defending his Masters title – if he cannot then Nadal could take advantage and move further ahead in the standings, having not played there last year.
Roger Federer also returns to action, with the former world No. 1 needing points to ensure his participation at the season-ending championships in London next month.
Serena Williams, meanwhile, will be taking a break ahead of the WTA Championships in Istanbul, having won the 56th title of her career in Beijing on Sunday and her 10th of this season – the best tally since Justine Henin in 2007.
The world No. 1 crushed formerly top-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-2 despite suffering an apparent recurrence of a back problem from earlier in the tournament.
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She is now seventh on the all-time WTA list, having moved above Virginia Wade and Lindsay Davenport.
The American has 73 match wins this year, the best since Kim Clijsters’ 90 and Henin’s 75 in 2003.
“I really love tennis so much and it’s fans like the ones here in China who are so exciting to come to,” she said after her second success in Beijing – the other being in 2004 when it moved to Beijing.
“The fans make me want to play, they’re so great here, so coming here is such a great opportunity.”
Jankovic, the only woman to play in all 10 editions of the event, was unable to repeat her 2008 success.
“Serena was just too good today, and big congratulations to her,” said the Serbian eighth seed, who is hoping to clinch one of the remaining places for the Turkey showpiece.
Last month China’s Li Na sealed the fifth of eight spots, joining Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska in qualifying.