China Open in Beijing had started back in 2004 and the players like Marat Safin, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray have all won titles there. Still, the ultimate ruler of this ATP 500 event is Novak Djokovic who had won six titles in seven years between 2009-2015, winning all 29 matches he played in the Chinese capital and standing as one of the most favorite players at the Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Center. Marin Cilic, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych were Novak's rivals in the title matches in Beijing over the years but none of them had managed to win at least a set against the mighty Serb who had lost just three sets in his six Beijing campaigns so far! As well all know, Novak had to miss the second part of 2017 due to an elbow injury and he made a shaky return, winning just six matches before Rome where he finally started to play on a higher level that he kept increasing throughout the summer.
Djokovic won Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the US Open and he is currently ranked second in the ATP Race, standing just over 1000 points behind Rafael Nadal and preparing himself for the battle against the Spaniard for the year-end number 1 position.
Nadal was forced to skip Beijing and Shanghai (he won 1100 points there in 2017) and Novak had a chance to become the ATP Race leader with good results at these two events, although he needed a wild card for Beijing as he opted not to play there for the third year in a row. The organizers were waiting for Novak's decision until the very last moment (he returned from Chicago where he played Laver Cup) and the Serb has decided not to travel to Beijing where he could have taken 500 points, staying in Belgrade and preparing himself for the Masters 1000 event in Shanghai where he won the titles in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
If he wins the crown there, Novak will be just behind Nadal in the Race and he would become a favorite for the year-end number 1 spot, being a much better indoor player than Rafa and also as the multiple winner of both Paris Masters and the ATP Finals.