Beijing Flashback: Novak Djokovic starts his reign


Beijing Flashback: Novak Djokovic starts his reign
Beijing Flashback: Novak Djokovic starts his reign © Feng Li / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic is the ATP 500 Beijing event's most decorated player, winning six titles from as many trips to China. Novak won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, returning to the Chinese capital a year later and lifting his 14th ATP title.

Novak met Marin Cilic in the final and scored a 6-2, 7-6 victory in an hour and 54 minutes, kicking off his incredible journey at this tournament. Djokovic defeated Cilic for the fourth time in four encounters, dominating the opener and prevailing in the second to avoid a decider.

Marin had a massive chance to force the deciding set, serving for the second set two times but failing to take the final strike. The Serb saved eight out of 11 break chances, delivering almost half of the return points and turning them into five breaks from nine opportunities.

They hit a similar number of winners and forced errors. Djokovic tamed his strokes more efficiently and created a gap in the unforced errors area, doing enough to celebrate his first title since May.

Novak Djokovic defeated Marin Cilic in the 2009 Beijing final.

The Serb played better in the shortest and most extended exchanges.

The Croat reduced the deficit in the mid-range rallies, although he needed more to take at least a set and prolong the action. Marin made a reliable start, creating three break chances on the return in the encounter's opening game.

Novak defended them, bringing the game home after nine minutes and avoiding an early setback. After the fourth game, the rain halted the action for an hour and a half. Djokovic worked hard once they returned, digging deep and defending break points in the fifth game.

That game became even more critical when Novak grabbed a break at 3-2 that pushed him in front. The Serb cemented the lead with a hold at 15 in game seven and produced another break in the next one after the Croat's forehand mistake to wrap up the set in style.

Cilic raised his level in the second set, producing two fine holds and delivering a break in the first game to forge a 3-1 advantage. Djokovic pulled the break back in game six after a 31-stroke exchange and Cilic's forehand error.

Marin started all over and broke again in game nine, opening a 5-4 gap and serving for the set. However, he played a loose forehand, allowing Novak to break back and lock the result at 5-5. The Croat landed a backhand return winner in the 11th game, securing another break and serving for the set for the second time at 6-5.

Djokovic stayed focused and created two break chances in game 12, eager to finish the job in straight sets. The Serb seized the second after the Croat's double fault, introducing a tie break and gathering a boost. Novak landed a forehand winner at 2-2 and opened a 4-2 gap with a volley winner at the net.

Djokovic earned match points and celebrated when Cilic sprayed a forehand error at 4-6, embracing his marvelous Beijing journey.

Novak Djokovic China Open

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