Game Game

Djokovic, Sharapova clinch China titles


DJOKOVIC-CHINABEIJING, October 5- World number one Novak Djokovic crushed Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2 Sunday to win the China Open and maintain a remarkable 100 percent record in the Beijing tournament.

Meanwhile, French Open champion Maria Sharapova was forced to battle hard to overcome Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the women’s final — a victory which moves her into second place in the rankings.

Serb Djokovic was 5-0 ahead in the second set, one game from serving up an incredible “double bagel” as he tore through his Czech opponent with a brilliant serving display.

As he was staring at an embarrassing defeat, a stunned Berdych laughed as he pretended to hand his racket to a ball-girl, suggesting that she may be able to take on his opponent.

But the world number six rallied briefly to take Djokovic’s serve and then take the scores to a more respectable 5-2, before the reigning champion sealed his fifth title in Beijing, an event he has won the five times he has entered.

“Beijing is definitely my lucky place, I enjoy coming here,” Djokovic said to the crowd after his stunning victory over the third seed.

In the women’s final, it was a gritty performance from current world number four Sharapova, who handed Kvitova her first loss in nine games.

The fourth seed Russian appeared to have carried into the match the determination she showed in her powerful 6-0, 6-4 semi-final defeat of Serbian world number nine Ana Ivanovic.

Kvitova, the world number three, broke serve in the first game, but Sharapova fought back to force three break-points in the fourth, before deservedly breaking serve at the next opportunity.

With Sharapova at 5-4 ahead, Kvitova dragged two cross-court shots wide to give her opponent the set.

But the Czech 24-year-old was dominant in the second set, racing to a 4-1 lead as she forced her opponent to stretch for a series of powerful baseline drives that were beyond reach.

Sharapova broke serve in the sixth game by forcing the left-handed Kvitova to miss-hit a fiercely struck drive to her right.

But the 27-year-old then double-faulted to hand a 5-2 lead to Kvitova, who claimed the next game to set up the decider.

Sharapova was then at her ruthless best, taking two serves from Kvitova before a third daring attempt in the eighth game with the scores at 5-2 in her favour.

The marathon nine-minute duel saw Kvitova rescue a match point before closing out the game.

But Sharapova concluded her show of force by taking all the points in her final service game to seal her fourth title of the year.
– ‘Great battle’ –
“After exchanging breaks in the first set, I was happy. I felt like I stepped it up,” Sharapova said.

“I started returning quite well, reading her serve a little bit. She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her be that way, let her play that way.

“I was kind of happy that I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.”

The victory was Sharapova’s sixth over Kvitova in the eight games they have previously played, with the Russian winning the last four meetings before Sunday’s final.

Sharapova’s previous titles in 2014 came in Stuttgart and Madrid in the lead up to her French Open victory, her fifth Grand Slam title.

She crashed out the US Open to eventual runner-up Caroline Wozniacki in the last 16, and was defeated by Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets at the same stage at the Wuhan Open last week.

Kvitova, meanwhile, won the inaugural tournament, her third title of the year. But she will drop from number three to four when the WTA adjusts is rankings, after failing to beat Sharapova in Beijing and extend her unbeaten run
in China.

However, she took heart from the way she battled through the gruelling two hour 28 minute match.

“What I did today I think was great battle. It was small things, small points that make the difference in the end,” she said.

“I had little bit of chances… I think it was great tennis. Played two and a half (hours), so I hope the fans enjoyed it as well.