HEAD racquet rebel Novak Djokovic tightened the race for the year-end No. 1 ranking as he won the China Open for the third time in as many appearances, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (4), 6-2. Maria Sharapova reached the final in the Chinese capital as well after a strong appearance but came up short against Victoria Azarenka taking a 6-3, 6-1 loss. In Tokyo, Andy Murray made it a weekend treble showing for HEAD aces as he reached the semi-finals of the Japan Open. Both Djokovic and Murray will carry on for the final week of autumn play in Asia at the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 event.
Djokovic, winner of four titles this season, owns a 14-match win streak in Beijing, where he has never lost after winning 2009, 2010 and the 2012 edition. "I'm planning to come back to the China Open next year. It's been one of my most successful tournaments," said the ATP world No. 2. "This is where I love to play. I love the conditions and, as I mentioned before, I have lots of support from the fans who are very loyal and very nice."
The Serb who plays with a YouTek IG Speed MP said that the match was won on a few key points: "We both had our chances; I managed to hold my nerves in the end." He said that he will try to reclaim the top ATP ranking spot over the final month of the regular season. "That's the target. This win will definitely help me in that race, but it's still quite open. There are still tournaments to come, big ones. Shanghai, obviously the first 1000 event that is next week. I want to try to get as far as I can in the tournament, obviously taking one match at a time as I always do."
Djokovic reached the final as he beat fellow HEAD player Florian Mayer of Germany (YouTek IG Prestige MP) 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-finals.
Maria Sharapova, who plays with a YouTek IG Instinct MP, will be looking for revenge in her next meeting with Azarenka, who has won four of their last five finals. The HEAD player struggled for almost 90 minutes, but remains a solid 27-18 in WTA finals. "Victoria played a really good match - she just did many things much better than I did," said Sharapova.
"It's unfortunate to lose in the final, but after the results I've had here in the past, this was definitely a step in the right direction." Sharapova will now prepare for the WTA Championships in Istanbul. "It's the last one of the year. It's a great achievement to get in that spot - it's always a goal in the beginning of the year. You want to be one of the girls to make the last eight.
Andy Murray can look ahead for improvement in Shanghai going down to Canadian Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) in Tokyo. The US Open winner and Olympic champion who swings a YouTek IG Radical Pro complained of a slow start. "It was very tough out there for me today, when you don't start well; your opponent can get confidence and really get into the set. It was a disappointment not to close it out, it all came down to a couple of points in the end and they didn't go my way. I was slow off the mark today and I paid for it, this was a tough loss. There was always going to be a bit of residue from the last few months,” Murray said. “Now I need to focus on Shanghai — it’s a big tournament; Then Paris and afterwards the ATP World Tour Finals in London. That’s the main goal.”