By Abigail Hinto
(October 6, 2013) Out to prove something after losing the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal as of Monday, Novak Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders, hitting winners in all corners, defending from everywhere and serving effectively well in his 6-3, 6-4 win to claim the China Open. But what sealed the win was Djokovic’s ability to sustain the high level of tennis and focused determination he started with until the end of the match. As Djokovic said, what what was the difference between his last two matches against Nadal and this one was “probably my serve, but also kind of emotional stability in the crucial moments I managed to stay tough and not drop in the concentration, which I think I did in both Montréal and US Open in the important moments. You know, I learned my lesson. It was few very tough and close matches that I lost against Rafa in hard courts, especially the last one in US Open final.”
For Rafael Nadal, the opposite happened. Unable to execute his shots, the few opportunities he had controlling the points, he ended up missing on his final shot. “I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon. This afternoon he was too strong for me. I didn’t play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve,” said Nadal. Nadal added, “(Djokovic) was able to hit all the balls where he wants to hit. When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead. You don’t have not one chance. So that’s what happened. I played against a great player, one of the best players that I ever seen playing very well. Was not the day to beat him.” Nadal failed to make any inroads, not able to create any break points in Djokovic’s service games, and he was broken early in both sets. Nadal ended the match with more unforced errors and less winners than Djokovic, a surefire recipe to a loss.
Novak Djokovic wins the China Open for the fourth time with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win, remaining undefeated in all the 4 years he’s played in Beijing.
A tournament always just has one winner. But this time, the two top players in the world will leave Beijing with great feelings about their week. While Rafael Nadal recaptures No. 1 from Novak Djokovic, Djokovic has finally managed to defeat Rafael Nadal again after losing to him the last three times to retain his trophy.
For Rafael Nadal, getting back to No. 1 “is something special for me. I’m enjoying the situation that I’m playing one of the best seasons of my career and probably one of the more emotional years, if not the most.”
For Novak Djokovic, he said he “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.”
So the most prolific rivalry in men’s tennis closes another chapter to their story. But the story is far from over. In fact next week, a new chapter begins in Shanghai.