Beijing, China - So much for being No. 1. – Beijing, China (SportsNetwork.com) - So much for being No. 1.
Novak Djokovic won't be the top-ranked player in the world when the new rankings are released Monday, but he still won the China Open with a dominating performance over the newly anointed No. 1, Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic, whose reign of 101 weeks at the top ended when Nadal reached the final of this event, thumped the Spanish superstar in a 6-3, 6-4 rout Sunday to win this title for the fourth time. He is 19-0 all-time at this tour stop, previously winning the championship in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
"It's been an incredible week again for me at the China Open," said Djokovic. "I still haven't lost a match here. I just love the conditions. I love the court and the atmosphere that goes around the tournament. I try to cherish every moment that I spend here every year."
Djokovic improved to 16-22 lifetime against Nadal, including 2-3 in 2013. He dethroned Nadal in the Monte Carlo final, but followed with semifinal losses at the French Open and Montreal before another setback in the U.S. Open final.
"I needed this win today," added Djokovic. "I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013. It's very important for my confidence. It's very important mentally and emotionally for me."
Nadal, who will return to the top of the rankings for the first time since the week of June 27, 2011, fell to 10-3 in finals this year. He has had a stellar year, reaching the title match in all but one of his 14 events since returning from a knee injury in February -- falling in stunning fashion to unheralded Belgian Steve Darcis in the first round at Wimbledon.
Djokovic was in control Sunday from the start, breaking Nadal's first service game and winning all but two points on his own serve in a 35-minute first set.
"I managed to stay tough and not drop my concentration, which I think (happened) in both Montreal and at the U.S. Open in the important moments," said Djokovic.
An early break in the second set gave Djokovic control again and he continued to dominate on his own serve, dropping just four points in the second set. The Serb finished the match in a mere 87 minutes.
"This afternoon he was too strong for me," noted Nadal. "I didn't play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve. 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 not one chance."
Djokovic won his 38th career title and fourth this year. He hadn't won a tournament since beating Nadal at Monte Carlo in April.
Nadal, meanwhile, fell to 65-4 for the year and saw his 21-match winning streak halted. He was trying for an 11th title this year, which would have matched his previous season best set in 2005.