| Novak Djokovic with the Masters Cup in Shanghai on Sunday |
Shanghai: Serbias Novak Djokovic crushed Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5 to win the Masters Cup on Sunday, underlining his credentials as a major challenger to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the top of mens tennis.
The Australian Open champion, who lost all his matches without winning a set on his debut at the season-ending shootout last year, earned $1.24 million to move to within 10 ranking points of world No. 2 Federer.
The Swiss defending champion crashed out at the round-robin stage, while world No. 1 Nadal missed the $4.45 million tournament through injury.
Im very, very happy, said the 21-year-old Djokovic after kissing the court and tossing his racket and shirt into the crowd.
Its a great achievement for me. The best eight players playing here says everything about the quality of the event and I would definitely put it on a level with the Grand Slams.
Having been a model of inconsistency in his earlier matches, the black-clad world No. 3 played almost perfect tennis on his way to winning the first set.
World No. 5 Davydenko, who beat Briton Andy Murray to reach his first Masters Cup final, was bludgeoned into submission by the young Serbians powerful groundstrokes and sizzling winners.
Against Djokovic you need to be perfect and also play very fast and very well, said Davydenko.
Thats what he did, and I didnt ... Normally I play very fast and have very good control and today I didnt. Djokovic played very well. For me I think today was a very difficult day.
A string of top quality returns allowed Djokovic to break Davydenkos first service game and a drop shot followed by an exquisite lob gave him a 5-0 lead. Davydenko finally got on the board in the next game but, despite having two break points when the Serbian was serving for the set, Djokovic rallied to take it 6-1.
Even when the hard-working Russian tried to mix it up by coming to the net, Djokovic had an answer for almost everything and it was no great surprise when the 27-year-old started fluffing simple shots.
Davydenko, playing his 26th event of the year, saved two match points at 5-3 in the second set and grabbed his first break of the match for 5-5.
Djokovic hit back, however, and wrapped up his fourth title of the season when the Russian netted a service return. What was on my mind on the last point? I was thinking Oh, great, the seasons over, said Davydenko.
The season-ending championship moves to London next season after four years at the 15,000-seat Qizhong arena in the suburbs of Chinas financial capital.
Novak Djokovic said he aimed to fulfil his lifetime goal of becoming world No. 1 next year after winning the season-ending Masters Cup.
Certainly I believe that I have the quality to reach the top spot in the upcoming year or next couple of years, (maybe) 10 years, he said.
That is my lifetime goal that Ive been always trying to achieve. But I have learned a lesson. If I pay too much attention to rankings, it doesnt go the right way.
While conceding that Rafael Nadal deserved to finish the season as the top player, Djokovic was pleased to see new younger players challenge the Spaniard and Swiss Federer.
Now its not only about the two players any more, he said. Its about five, six, seven players who are playing really well and can win against each other.
I think its good for the sport to see some new faces playing the final stages of the major events.
Djokovic was particularly pleased with his victory on Sunday because he had lost his last three finals — at Queens, the Cincinnati Masters and in Bangkok — and not won a title since the Rome Masters in May.
I didnt manage to win a couple of finals, but Ive done it now, said the Serbian, who also won the Masters Series event in Indian Wells in March. I ended up the season the way I started it, with a win in a big event. So its a great boost for the upcoming season.
Serbian tennis has had a good year with Jelena Jankovic the No. 1 one woman and Nenad Zimonjic teaming up with Belgrade-born Canadian Daniel Nestor on Sunday to win the Masters Cup and take the No. 1 spot in doubles.
I think Serbias getting used to number one so Ill have to work on that, I guess, joked Djokovic. Probably the fact that we didnt have the best possible conditions gave us more motivation to succeed.