World No. 2 Novak Djokovic overcame Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in straight sets yesterday to win the China Open for a third time.
The 25-year-old Serb defeated the world number seven 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to maintain his unbeaten record at the ATP 500 tournament in Beijing and take the winner’s prize of US$530,570.
Little separated the players throughout the entire opening set. The first four games went to serve before Tsonga made a breakthrough in the fifth game, breaking Djokovic without losing a point.
However, the Serb immediately broke back and the next six games went with serve to force a tie break, where Djokovic raced to a 4-1 lead.
Tsonga won two quick points before Djokovic spurned an opportunity while 5-3 ahead, pushing a simple forehand shot well wide.
However, two mistakes from the Frenchman, including a backhand half volley into the net, gave the tie break and set to Djokovic.
The first two service games of the second set were held before Djokovic broke in the third and was spurred on to take the next two games, racing to a 4-1 lead, then came from behind to hold serve in the sixth.
Tsonga held in the seventh before Djokovic did the same to take the set and the match in one hour and 41 minutes.
Djokovic has now won the China Open on the three occasions he has played, his previous titles coming in 2009 and 2010, and his record at the tournament stands at 14-0.
The Serb had won his previous five meetings against Tsonga, including three this year, and was ultimately too strong for the Frenchman, who was making his first China Open final appearance and only his third full match of this year’s tournament.
Tsonga, making his fourth appearance at the China Open, started with a tough three-set win over Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin before receiving a walkover against Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko.
He defeated Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2 in the third round and won his semi-final match against Feliciano Lopez when the Spaniard, who was trailing 1-6, 1-4 at the time, retired with a wrist injury.
For his part, Djokovic opened with a first-round three-set win against German qualifier Michael Berrer and followed it with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Carlos Berlocq of Argentina.
AZARENKA TAKES TITLE
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka thrashed second seed Maria Sharapova of Russia in straight sets yesterday to win the US$4.8 million China Open.
The Belarusian dispatched Sharapova, ranked No. 2 in the world, 6-3, 6-1 in the final of the Beijing tournament — the last Premier Mandatory event of the women’s calendar.
Azarenka, 23, sped to a 4-0 lead in the first set against the French Open champion, breaking her opponent’s serve twice and holding her own on both occasions.
Sharapova, 25, won her first game in the fifth, before Australian Open champion Azarenka continued her 100 percent service game in the sixth.
The Russian responded by upping her serving and return shorts, winning two games in a row, but it was too little too late as Azarenka broke Sharapova in the final game to win the set 6-3 in 43 minutes.
Azarenka continued her momentum into the second set, again winning the first four games with ease.
The tennis star from Belarus then came from behind to hold her serve in a lengthy fifth game to make it 5-0 before Sharapova scraped a game, following an 18-shot rally.
With Azarenka serving for the match Sharapova had two break points at advantage, but the Russian was unable to convert.
Azarenka then squandered a match point before finally taking the game and set to record a big win.
It was Azarenka’s first China Open title in four attempts and her fifth tournament triumph of the season.
Both finalists had made it to the last two without dropping a set and Azarenka is now 7-4 to the good against Sharapova in head-to-heads.
The China Open is one of four compulsory events, ranking behind only the Grand Slams and end-of-season WTA Championships in prestige.