Novak Djokovic described it as his greatest performance in a final while his opponent, Tomas Berdych, said he had “never, ever experienced anything like that”. The 6-0, 6-2 scoreline as Djokovic claimed his fifth China Open title here barely did justice to the world No 1’s brilliance.
But for a smart return of serve by Berdych when Djokovic had match point at 6-0, 5-0 after less than an hour the Serb would have become the first player in 46 years of Open tennis to win a tour final with a “double bagel” scoreline. Berdych, who in mock desperation had offered his racket to a ball girl, thrust his arms into the air in triumph when he went on to break serve. The world No 6 won the following game, too, before Djokovic sealed his 46th title.
Djokovic said afterwards that he could never recall having dominated a match in such a fashion. “It was incredible, especially against Tomas, who has a big game and is an experienced player,” he said. “Everything I tried worked. To be proud of the performance is the least I can say.”
Berdych added: “I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. The way that he performed today was really outstanding. There is really not much I can add to that because I was just swept out from the court.”
Djokovic said he felt uncomfortable going to the net at the end. “Obviously you don’t know what to say,” he said. “But Tomas reacted very well. We’re good friends, we practise a lot with each other. We have a good relationship off the court, respect on the court.
“He said: 'That was pretty awesome.’ He smiled. I smiled back. I said: 'Good tournament.' That’s all I can say after a match like this.”
Djokovic has won all 24 matches he has played in five appearances at this tournament and has huge support in China. Fans wait outside his hotel every day and shower him with gifts.
“I always take an extra bag so I can carry those presents back to Europe with me,” Djokovic said. “I don’t experience this level of support and loyalty anywhere in the world. These fans literally spend the whole day here in Beijing just for me, just to support me and spend a few minutes a day with me.”
The Serb has been writing messages in Chinese script on the television camera lens at the end of his matches and at the presentation ceremony delighted the crowd by speaking some words he knows in their language that he has learned: “Hello. Thank you for your support. It’s nice to meet you. My friend. Beautiful girl.”
The defeats of both Berdych and Milos Raonic, who lost 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 to Kei Nishikori in the final of the Japan Open in Tokyo, provided a timely boost to Andy Murray’s chances of qualifying for next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
The eight places at the season-ending finale go to those players who have won the most ranking points in the calendar year. Murray is currently ninth on the qualifying list, just 175 and 200 points respectively behind eighth-placed Raonic and seventh-placed Berdych. The Canadian and the Czech would both have earned an extra 200 points by winning yesterday.
Murray, who was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic in the semi-finals here, could run into him again at this week’s Shanghai Masters. Murray starts tomorrow against Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili and could then meet Jerzy Janowicz and David Ferrer before a quarter-final showdown with Djokovic.
James Ward, the British No 2, will make only his third appearance in a Masters Series tournament when he meets South African’s Kevin Anderson today. Ward qualified for the main draw by beating Rajeev Ram and the former world No 12, Viktor Troicki.
RACE TO LONDON
Ranking points earned in 2014; top eight players to qualify for Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
1 N Djokovic 8,650 pts
2 R Federer 7,020
3 R Nadal 6,735
4 S Wawrinka 4,795
5 K Nishikori 4,255
6 M Cilic 3,980
7 T Berdych 3,765
8 M Raonic 3,740
9 A Murray 3,565
10 D Ferrer 3,535
11 G Dimitrov 3,405
12 J-W Tsonga 2,650
Berdych to meet Lendl
Tomas Berdych is to meet Ivan Lendl later this month with a view to asking his fellow Czech to join his entourage. Berdych, who has been coached by Tomas Krupa since 2009, has been a permanent member of the world’s top 10 for the last four years and believes Lendl could help him become a Grand Slam champion.
Lendl guided Andy Murray to the US Open and Wimbledon titles before parting company with the Scot earlier this year because he wanted to spend more time on his own projects.
Berdych, who said he would meet Lendl after this week’s Shanghai Masters, may be prepared to accept a deal which would not require his fellow countryman to spend as much time on the road as Murray wanted. It could be a similar arrangement to Roger Federer’s with Stefan Edberg, who initially agreed to work with the Swiss for just 10 weeks of the year.Reuse content