SHANGHAI // The world number three Novak Djokovic crushed the Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-1 7-5 to win the US$4.45 million (Dh16.4m) Masters Cup. The Australian Open champion, who lost all his matches without winning a set on his debut at the event last year, played his best tennis of the week in the Shanghai final. The Serbian Djokovic, 21, celebrated by kissing the court and tossing his racket and shirt into the crowd after seeing off Davydenko in one hour and 42 minutes.
"I'm very, very happy," he said. "It's 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." Djokovic, the first Serb to win the men's year-ending championship, also earned US$1.24m to move to within 10 ranking points of the world number two Roger Federer, who crashed out at the round-robin stage.
Having been a model of inconsistency in his earlier matches, the black-clad Djokovic played almost perfect tennis on his way to winning the first set in just over half a hour. The world number five Davydenko, 27, who beat the Briton Andy Murray to reach his first Masters Cup final, was bludgeoned into submission by the young Serbian's powerful groundstrokes and sizzling winners. A string of top quality returns allowed him to break Davydenko's 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 Davydenko started fluffing simple shots. He saved two match points at 5-3 and grabbed his first break of the match to make it 5-5 but Djokovic hit back and wrapped up his fourth title of the season when the Russian netted a service return.
The season-ending championship moves to London next season after four years at the 15,000-seat Qizhong arena in the suburbs of China's financial capital. *Reuters