Novak Djokovic captures third ATP title of the year

Serbia's Novak Djokovic outlasted giant killer Marin Cilic of Croatia to clinch the China Open title. On the women's side, the reigning French Open champion, Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova breezed to the title.


AFP - Novak Djokovic captured his third ATP title of the year at the China Open on Sunday, outlasting giant killer Marin Cilic of Croatia, while Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova breezed to the women's title.

The Serbian second seed capitalised on a 90-minute rain delay at 2-2 in the first set, returning to centre court at the Beijing Olympic tennis venue with renewed focus to win the blistering baseline battle with Cilic, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).

The big-hitting Cilic -- who beat fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko and top seed Rafael Nadal en route to the final -- pummeled Djokovic with a barrage of huge backcourt shots but the Serb successfully mixed up the pace to throw him off.

After holding serve to go up 3-2 in the first, Djokovic broke Cilic straight away and then a second time to take the set, with the 21-year-old Croatian the victim of two unlucky net cords in the final game.

In the second, Cilic -- a wild card entry here -- and the 22-year-old Serb traded breaks three times to force a tiebreak, with the Croatian failing to serve out the set twice.

Djokovic took control mid-tiebreak, winning a rally after Cilic slipped and fell to go up 4-2. The Serb closed it out on his second match point when the Croatian sent an inside-out forehand sailing wide.

Both players agreed that the light rain shower had influenced the outcome of the match, which lasted nearly two hours.

"I certainly played much better after the rain delay," said Djokovic, who went home with the 500,000-dollar winner's cheque. "I kind of got my nerves together.... I was very fresh on the court after that."

"Even though it was a straight set win, it wasn't easy at all," the Serb said, congratulating Cilic on a great week in Beijing.

The Croatian said he had trouble adjusting to the cooler temperatures and the slower on-court conditions after the break.

"I didn't find the right range. I was a little bit struggling with that," Cilic said.

"He was defending really well and so it was tough to get some free points. I think I didn't serve well today.... In the crucial moments, he played well."

Djokovic, by reaching the final, was assured of taking over the world number three ranking on October 19, surpassing injured Scot Andy Murray. He has already qualified for the season-ending championship in London in November.

Both men will head straight to Shanghai for the next leg of the ATP Tour's swing through Asia.

In the women's final, Kuznetsova, the reigning French Open champion and sixth seed here, used her powerful ground strokes and extra experience to run Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska around the court, winning 6-2, 6-4.

Kuznetsova, who defeated Radwanska earlier this year en route to the title at Roland Garros, dominated the first set, breaking the 20-year-old Pole three times and running her around the court with her penetrating ground strokes.

In the second, the 24-year-old Russian -- who won here in 2006 -- also went up an early break and never looked back, keeping the 12th seed Radwanska on the run by hitting difficult angles from the baseline.

She easily served out the match, ending with a wide serve Radwanska could not handle.

The win at the 6.6-million-dollar combined ATP/WTA event ensures that Kuznetsova, currently world number six, will move into the top five when the new WTA rankings come out on Monday.

Also on Sunday, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan won the men's doubles final, defeating Andy Roddick and doubles specialist Mark Knowles in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, for their sixth title of the year.

China's Peng Shuai and Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei won the women's doubles title late Saturday, beating Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva and Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-1.

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