Serbia’s Novak Djokovic defeated Spanish star Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-2 Sunday to win his sixth China Open title and improve his record at the tournament to a sterling 29-0.
Djokovic had seven aces to none for his Spanish rival, and saved both break points he faced in the match, which was the 45th between the two players.
“The scoreline, especially in the first set, doesn’t indicate the real battle that we had on the court,” Djokovic said.
“I think I maintained that level of aggressivity and strength and power in my shots, and eventually I knew that he’s going to make mistakes and he’s going to give me shorter balls so I can dominate the rallies, which happened.”
Nadal still leads 23-22 but hasn’t beaten Djokovic since the French Open final last year and hasn’t prevailed on hard courts since the 2013 US Open final.
The Spaniard hurt his foot early in the second set and called for the trainer during a changeover. He said he would see how he feels Monday and hopes he’ll be able to play next week’s Shanghai Masters.
Nadal said he’s pleased with his performance this week, especially considering how much he’s struggled to maintain his consistency this season — his first in 11 years without a Grand Slam title. He’s also just 2-8 against top-10 opponents this year.
“That’s the thing that I am working hard to try to recover the level that I want to recover,” he said. “And for moments in that first set, I was very close to that level, thinking that I am playing against a player who is playing unbelievable and with huge confidence.”
The top-ranked Djokovic has been so dominant in Beijing, he’s only lost three sets in six years. This year, he also only lost 14 games coming into the final, the fewest in his career at an ATP Tour event with a minimum of four matches played, according to the ATP.
“This positive week definitely encourages me and gives me a lot of confidence for Shanghai,” he said.
Djokovic will be the top-seeded player for the Shanghai Masters starting on Monday, which also features Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Nadal.
In the women’s final, Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza captured her second career WTA Tour title at the China Open on Sunday, rallying in both sets to defeat Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-4.
Muguruza trailed 5-2 in the opening set before winning five straight games to clinch it, then went down an early break in the second set before coming back yet again.
The Spaniard will rise to a career-high ranking of No. 4 on Monday, while Bacsinszky will break into the top 10 for the first time.
“Definitely it’s a big achievement. I think, you know, to see you are improving, also on the tennis side, but in the rankings, it’s that moment when there’s only three more in front of me,” she said, smiling. “Three more. Three more.”
Muguruza struggled after her breakthrough performance at Wimbledon, losing in the second round of the U.S. Open, but she has played some of her best tennis in the past two weeks. She also reached the final last week in Wuhan, retiring in the second set with a left ankle injury while trailing Venus Williams.