Top seeds Djokovic, Azarenka win China Open
BEIJING—Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka triumphed in Beijing on Sunday, winning their respective China Open finals with ease in straight sets.
World number two Djokovic, 25, overcame Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to maintain his unbeaten record at the ATP 500 tournament and take the winner’s prize of $530,570.
The Serb has won the China Open every time he has entered, his previous titles coming in 2009 and 2010 before he missed last year because of injury, and his record at the tournament now stands at 14-0.
He is pressing to beat Roger Federer to the year-end number one spot in the world rankings and said he was “delighted” at his latest triumph.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win this trophy in the new stadium,” he said of the capital’s National Tennis Stadium, which had yet to be built the last time he won in Beijing.
“The first set was really even, and maybe a couple of points decided the winner there,” Djokovic, seeded number one, said.
“We served well when we needed to, and I think the realistic thing to expect for the first set was tie break.
“I managed to hold my nerves in the end. He made the double fault that probably cost him the set.
“Then when you’re getting to the second set with the set advantage, mentally it is much more encouraging for you and then you try to play on that confidence run that you have,” he added.
“I made that early break in the second and after that I felt much more comfortable on the court.”
In celebration Djokovic delighted fans with a rendition of the famed horse-riding dance from South Korean pop hit “Gangnam Style”, fulfilling a promise made earlier in the week to do so if he won the tournament.
A disappointed Tsonga admitted afterwards he had let an opportunity slip early in the tie.
“It was a good match,” he said. “I missed maybe something in the first set. I was a break up and I was playing well.
“But then he played solid. It was really difficult to control him. I just tried to play my game, to be aggressive. But against a player like this, for the moment my level is not high enough to beat him.”
World number one Azarenka thrashed second seed Sharapova of Russia in straight sets to win the $4.8m women’s event.
The Belarusian dispatched Sharapova, ranked number two in the world, 6-3, 6-1, in the last Premier Mandatory event of the women’s calendar.
Azarenka, 23, collected the winner’s prize of $848,000 and became the first player ever to win two Premier Mandatory tournaments in one year.
It was Azarenka’s first China Open title in four attempts.
“I’m really happy to have a good result because I’ve been coming here the last four years,” Azarenka said, praising the “incredible atmosphere” inside the capital’s National Tennis Stadium.
“I think I started the match really well, and I felt like I was doing the right things to make sure that I didn’t let Maria play her game as she likes always to be in control and dominate,” Azarenka added.
“Of course it wasn’t possible for me to do that every single point, but for the most part I was trying to keep up with her rhythm, and when I had the chance, just to try to step it up, be in control myself to take that opportunity to move forward.”
Sharapova was full of praise for her opponent.
“Victoria played an amazing match today,” she said. “She did many things better than I did.
“There’s a reason she is number one in the world right now.
“I felt like when I had the chance, I was just making errors in situations where I had opportunities to get back in the set or the match.
“I would miss second serves which against somebody who is number one in the world you can’t really do.
“I really need to cut back on those errors I made today,” she added.
It was the sixth time the two had met in the final of a tournament and the fourth time this year. Azarenka has now won five and lost only one of their title deciders.
The China Open is one of four compulsory events, ranking behind only the Grand Slams and end-of-season WTA Championships in prestige.
Azarenka won the Indian Wells, a compulsory event, in March.
Sharapova, a four-time Grand Slam winner, is yet to win a Premier Mandatory tournament.