Djokovic Demolishes Berdych in Beijing; Nishikori Wins Second Consecutive Title in Tokyo
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Novak Djokovic remained undefeated at the China Open in Beijing, winning his fifth career title at the tournament in comprehensive fashion. He crushed an indifferent Tomas Berdych 6-0 6-2 in the final, and did not drop a set against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Vasek Pospisil, Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray this week. Only Pospisil managed to notch more than five games in a single set, and his eight games total were the most any of Djokovic’s opponents got against this week. Djokovic dominated Beijing in every way possible and they might as well remain the center court after him at this point.
Berdych meanwhile found some form, he beat Feliciano Lopez, Viktor Troicki, John Isner and surprise semifinalist Martin Klizan, a qualifier, without dropping a set. Like Djokovic, he did not surrender more than seven games in any of his matches before the final in total, and not more than 4 in a single set. The Czech hasn’t had a great season, but he has now reached four ATP finals, three of them at the 500 level, and he drops to 1-3 in ATP finals this year.
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau won the doubles title over Julian Benneteau and Vasek Pospisil.
Kei Nishikori made a sellout crowd in Tokyo very happy, winning his home tournament for the second time in his career with a clutch 7-6 4-6 6-4 victory over his rival Milos Raonic. Nishikori has now won two ATP titles in a row, and he has dominated the Asian swing thus far, after reaching the US Open final, he is truly making a push for the top five before the year ends.
Raonic served well in the final but Nishikori matched his serving and rallied far better than the Canadian, who appeared glued to the baseline, fearing Nishikori’s ability to snap passing shots past him if he were to approach the net. Nishikori also was able to coerce the Canadian into rushing his shots on key points in the match, and that was enough of the difference for him to win a first set tiebreak, and get a late break in the third to take it.
Interestingly, Raonic has a great record in Tokyo, he has made the final there the past three editions, and he lost to Nishikori in the 2012 final as well.
Nishikori has now won four titles this season, two of them coming at the 500 level, and he improves to 4-1 in ATP finals this year, along with 4-2 overall this year in tour level finals (he lost the US Open final of course). . He notched quality wins over Ivan Dodig, Donald Young and Jeremy Chardy this past week without dropping a set, then won a third set tiebreak over Benjamin Becker in the semis. The Dodig match in particular was a highlight reel for Nishikori, as he crushed the Croat, forcing him to race for the ball from corner to corner, and leaving him gasping for air after almost every rally.
Raonic continued his strong late season stretch, and his consistency in tournaments with strong fields this season, he beat Bernard Tomic, Jurgen Melzer, Denis Istomin and Gilles Simon without dropping a set. While all of his opponents challenged him temporarily, Raonic was simply too good on serve to truly feel threatened, giving his opponents little chance to break his serve.
Alternate doubles team Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Michal Przysiezny beat Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the doubles final.