World No. 3 Novak Djokovic claimed the Masters Cup with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko in yesterday’s final to end a six-month title drought.
After Davydenko netted a serve return on match point, Djokovic repeatedly pumped both fists before throwing two rackets, his wristbands and shirt into the crowd. He went over to his family and coach, and they held a group hug, jumping several times together in joy.
“I’m very, very happy to end up with the title,” said Djokovic, who won US$625,000 and a Mercedes SUV.
He got into the car, which was brought onto the court during the awards ceremony, and honked the horn.
Djokovic dedicated the victory to his family, support team and fans back in Serbia. He also praised the Chinese fans, some of whom spent hours outside the players’ hotel seeking autographs and photos.
“I never experienced anything in my life like I did in front of the hotel,” Djokovic said. “I got at least three gifts every night.”
It was the Serb’s first tournament victory since he won the Rome Masters in May and left him just 10 points behind Roger Federer in the men’s rankings.
Overtaking the Swiss star will be no easy feat since Djokovic will have to defend his titles early in the year at the Australian Open and Indian Wells. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has a substantial lead, although he is nursing a sore knee that kept him away from Shanghai.
Djokovic, who said he was exhausted after needing nearly three hours to beat Gilles Simon in Saturday’s semi-final, was sharp from the start. He won the first five games, allowing Davydenko only six points.
While the fans in packed Qi Zhong Stadium clearly favored Djokovic, they roared when Davydenko finally got on the board at 5-1.
Djokovic had to fend off a two break points in the next game, before finishing off the set with a deep backhand cross-court shot that Davydenko couldn’t handle.
Djokovic, who failed to win a set in three matches during his debut last year at the season-ending event, broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set, leaping high as he pumped his fist.
Davydenko saved two match points while serving at 3-5 and Djokovic, serving for the match, smashed an ace to save a break point at 15-40, but showed some nerves as he followed with a double-fault to hand the game to Davydenko.
Serving at 5-5, the Russian returned the favor, netting a forehand on break-point. Djokovic didn’t squander the opportunity, easily holding to finish off the match.
Earlier, Daniel Nestor of Canada and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan of the US 7-6 (3), 6-2 to win the doubles title and clinch the year-end ATP No. 1 ranking.
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