BEIJING: Novak Djokovic described his crushing 6-0, 6-2 win over Tomas Berdych at the China Open Sunday as his greatest ever final, as his remarkable 100 percent record in Beijing continues.
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.
“This has been, under the circumstances, probably the best performance in all finals in my career I played. It was incredible. Incredible,” the world number one said after his stunning victory over the third seed.
“It was six Love, five Love, under an hour. Everything I tried worked. To be proud of the performance is the least I can say of what I played tonight.”
Berdych, who was still stunned, shaking his head for much of the post-match press conference, admitted he was no match for his opponent.
“I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. Really the way that he performed today was really outstanding,” he said.
“There is really not much I can add to that because, really, I was just swept out from the court. Yeah, that was it.
“I probably played maybe over, what, 600 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre (Agassi), Roger (Federer), all those probably in their best times. But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”
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 win the opener.
The Czech 24-year-old was dominant in the second set, but Sharapova responded well in the third to seal her fourth title of the year.
“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 Monday, 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.