Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic win

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

BEIJING -- Top-ranked Novak Djokovic won his fifth China Open title in what he called the most dominant final of his career, routing third-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2 on Sunday in a little over an hour.

Djokovic was one point away from handing Berdych a "double bagel" -- a 6-0, 6-0 defeat -- but the Czech player fought off match point, then broke Djokovic to win his first game. He raised both arms in celebration and smiled with relief as the crowd roared.

The Serb sealed the victory two games later to improve his sparkling record at the China Open to 24-0.

"I met somebody in the final who I've never seen before," Berdych said. "I was just swept out from the court."

On the women's side, Maria Sharapova outlasted Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in a hard-hitting, back-and-forth duel to win the title and return to No. 2 in the rankings.

Djokovic said he woke up Sunday with a good feeling, and that continued when he stepped on court and broke Berdych in the first game.

"Everything felt right," he said. "I stepped on the court with this positive mindset. Obviously, I felt it from the start."

His statistics looked fairly routine: 19 winners and nine unforced errors, though many of those came in the two games he lost at the end. The difference was the way he relentlessly pressured Berdych's serve and prevented him from getting close to a break point on his.

"This has been, under the circumstances, probably the best performance in all finals in my career I played," he said. "It was incredible."

The No. 6-ranked Berdych said there was not much he could do.

"I probably played maybe over, what, 600 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre (Agassi), Roger (Federer), all those probably in their best times," he said. "But I have never, ever experienced anything like that."

Djokovic said he's hoping to carry the momentum to another title at the Shanghai Masters next week. Djokovic is on a 25-match winning streak overall in China, having also won in Shanghai in 2012 and 2013. He has not lost in China since Federer beat him in the Shanghai semifinals in 2010.

Sharapova overcame 10 double-faults and a number of untimely errors to defeat Kvitova in a rematch of their 2011 Wimbledon final, won by the Czech left-hander.

The Russian had leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in the third set, but made consecutive errors in the seventh game to give Kvitova break point to get back on serve. She saved it with a hard, deep shot to the corner that Kvitova dumped in the net, then tracked down a short ball and hit a sharply angled backhand winner to make it 5-2.

After missing the end of last season with an injured shoulder, Sharapova is now wrapping up one of her most successful years on tour. She captured her fifth Grand Slam title at the French Open and now has four titles for the year -- her most in a single season since 2006.

With the win, she'll also jump past Simona Halep and Kvitova from fourth to second in the rankings, within striking distance of top-ranked Serena Williams.

At this time last year, Sharapova was looking into different treatment options for her shoulder, not sure when she'd return to the court.

"It was mentally a tough time because I was just in the middle of Europe trying to find a solution, yet everyone was still playing," she said.

"It's definitely great to be a year later in a situation where this is my fourth title of the year, you know, a Grand Slam this year. A lot to put in perspective. You look back and think about how you kind of struggled, but you kept going."

Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champion, fell short of earning her second title in as many weeks following her victory last weekend at the Wuhan Open. She was playing her ninth match in 13 days and seemed to struggle with her energy levels as the match wore on.

"Yeah, I was tired," she said. "But it was final. Every time I'm playing final, I'm giving everything I have inside."