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October 12, 2009

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Triumphant Novak heads to Shanghai

SECOND seed Novak Djokovic was rejuvenated by a rain break and came back on court to beat Croatian Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6 (4) and win his third title of the season at the China Open in Beijing yesterday.
French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova managed to avoid the rain and dealt swiftly with the challenge of Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4 to claim a second China Open title in the first year of its elevated status as one of the WTA's "crown jewel" events.
Djokovic will now head back to the scene of one of the biggest wins of his career with a spring in his step.
The Serb, who won the Tennis Masters Cup in its final year as the season-ending men's tour championship in Shanghai last November, returns to the Qizhong Tennis Center this week for the inaugural Shanghai ATP Masters 1000.
Just reaching yesterday's final at the Olympic tennis center, where he won a bronze at the Beijing Games last year, also means he will overtake Andy Murray later this month as world No. 3 after the Briton withdrew from Shanghai with a wrist injury.
"I feel very confident playing on Asian soil, where I have had a lot of success in the last two years," Djokovic told reporters after his victory over Cilic.
"Shanghai was a big achievement for me when I won it in the last tournament of last year.
"I'm going to be playing in the same club and coming to Shanghai with a victory in Beijing certainly gives me a lot of motivation," the 2008 Australian Open champion said.
Career record
Yesterday, Djokovic kept his 100 percent career record against world No. 15 Cilic intact in a contest long on rallies but short on quality.
"Even though it was a straight-sets win, it could easily have gone the other way," said the 22-year-old Serbian, who will take home US$500,000.
Djokovic imitated Rafael Nadal by biting the trophy he was awarded but that was the only resemblance between the two players in their matches against Cilic, who demolished the Spanish world No. 2 in the semifinals.
Cilic, 21, had been inspired in his victory over Nadal and looked the more dangerous of the finalists yesterday before the rain break but struggled to pick up the pace after the 90-minute interruption.
From the moment she broke Radwanska's first service game to moment the 20-year-old Pole netted a return to give her victory 79 minutes later, Kuznetsova was in almost complete control of the women's final.
Radwanska had never tasted defeat in three previous tour finals, while Kuznetsova had lost two at the China Open alone, but yesterday the Russian was a class above the world No. 11.
"I like the tournament very much, especially that the prize money is higher than the men's, I think we deserve it," said the 24-year-old Kuznetsova, who pocketed a check for US$775,500.


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