Djokovic topples Nadal
Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-4 in Beijing to win the China Open for the fourth time in five years.
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The defeat was Nadal's first hardcourt loss of the season but he will nevertheless usurp Djokovic as the world No 1 when the new rankings are published on Monday.
Nadal has had the beating of Djokovic this season, coming out on top at the semi-finals at Roland Garros and last month's final at the US Open, as well as the Canada Masters.
But victory at Beijing's National Tennis Centre gave Djokovic a degree of revenge and improved his record in the Chinese capital to 19-0.
The second seed only showed rare glimpses of the form that has seen him win 10 titles this year, with his Serbian opponent racing to a 3-0 lead.
Djokovic then powered ahead, showing formidable power-hitting and length on his groundstrokes to take the first set.
He immediately broke in the opening game of the second set and then kept his nerve, holding serve until the conclusion of the match in one hour and 27 minutes.
The win made the Belgarde-born player the first four-time winner of the event following his successes in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
"I needed this win today," Djokovic said on www.atpworldtour.com after halting Nadal's 22-match winning streak. "I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013.
"It's very important for my confidence. It's very important, mentally and emotionally, for me.
"It's been an incredible week again for me at the China Open.
"I still haven't lost a match here. I just love the conditions."
The 26-year-old, runner-up to Nadal at the US Open last month, continued: "I managed to stay tough and not drop my concentration, which I think (happened) in both Montreal and at the US Open in the important moments.
"I learned my lesson. It was a few very tough and close matches that I lost against Rafa on hard courts, especially the last one in the US Open final."
Nadal was gracious in defeat, saying: "I didn't see the way to stop him this afternoon.
"This afternoon he was too strong for me. I didn't play my best match, but he played at a very high level with his serve.
"I was not able to have any chance when I was returning during the whole match. He had the ball staying very low. It was very difficult to create spin on this ball.
"He was able to hit all the balls where he wanted. When that's happening against a player like Novak, you are dead. You don't have not one chance."