World number one Novak Djokovic won his first Japan Open title and the 76th of his career with a dominant 6-3, 6-2 win over Australian John Millman in the final in Tokyo on Sunday.
It was a triumphant return to the tour for Djokovic, who had withdrawn from the US Open in the fourth round due to a shoulder injury, and it was the 10th time he had won a title on his tournament debut.
The top seeded Serb needed only 69 minutes to dispatch Millman — who was playing in his maiden ATP 500 final — and the 32-year-old won the title without dropping a set in the tournament.
“It was a fantastic week in every sense,” Djokovic said. “I felt great on the court... (I) didn’t drop a set, played really well, served great. Just overall, a great experience."
“We had a tough battle in the first set. (In) the second set I stepped it up, started swinging through the ball even better than the first set. Overall, it was a great tournament for him.”
Djokovic won a whopping 87 per cent of his first service points and fired six aces, never giving Millman a whiff of a break point. He also broke the Australian ranked 79 places below him three times in the match.
Millman was simply no match for Djokovic, who fired 23 winners and also won eight of 12 points at the net.
“It sounds silly to say but I hope everyone all around the world realises just how good you are,” Millman, 30, said at the trophy presentation. “You’re an absolute champion and you’re the type of person who’s going to be remembered forever."
“Your legacy is continuing to build and will just live on long after you’ve finished playing but I’m sure you’ve got a fair few more years left.”
Djokovic has already qualified for next month’s season-ending ATP Finals in London.
Osaka wins second Asian title with victory over Barty in Beijing
Japan’s Naomi Osaka fought back from a set down to beat Australian world number one Ash Barty 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the China Open in Beijing on Sunday.
It was world number four Osaka’s second title in the Asian swing after clinching the Pan Pacific Open in Japan last month and she is yet to lose a match since her fourth-round exit at the US Open, extending her run to 10 victories.
In a battle between two of the year’s Grand Slam champions, Australian Open winner Osaka broke the reigning French Open champion Barty three times and dropped serve only once in the one-hour-50-minute encounter.
It was Osaka’s second win over a fellow Grand Slam champion at the tournament after she beat US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in another three-setter in the quarter-finals.
The opening set went with serve until Osaka made three double faults in one game to give Barty a 4-2 lead, after which the Australian served out the set, saving a break point along the way.
“Basically I was telling myself to keep fighting even though my attitude was really trash - ‘this is a final, I’m really privileged to be here in the first place, so keep fighting!’” Osaka said.
“I feel like I wasn’t that calm here (at the tournament). I threw my racket, like, once every match. I really wanted to win here, I felt like I had something to prove.”
The Japanese turned the tables in the second set when she broke back to take a 4-2 lead. At 30-all, she unleashed a backhand return to bring up a fourth break point and then forced Barty to hit her forehand long.
Osaka did not concede a single break point in the second set and took it into the decider after closing out on her serve.
She then upped the tempo right from the opening game of the third set with long baseline rallies which forced Barty into making mistakes, earning the fourth seed a break of serve.
A poor service game from Barty when she was down 4-2 in the third saw her broken to love as Osaka won eight points in a row to take a 5-2 lead and serve for the title.
Barty managed to save one match point in the final game but Osaka took to the baseline again to out-rally her opponent, wrapping up the encounter and levelling their head-to-head record at 2-2.
Comeback king Thiem rallies to subdue Tsitsipas in Beijing final
Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem overcame a sluggish start and clawed his way back from a set and a break down to beat Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the China Open in Beijing on Sunday.
The win secured Thiem’s fourth title of the year after triumphs at Indian Wells, Barcelona and Austria.
Thiem, who was forced to dig deep and come back from a set down in the semi-final against Karen Khachanov, broke Tsitsipas five times while dropping serve three times to lift his first ever title in Asia.
“Honestly I think this was one of the best matches I’ve played so far in my whole career,” Thiem said. “I know it’s hard for you, Stefanos. You played amazing and I really hope that we have a lot more finals in the biggest tournaments."
“Last year we had a great rivalry going on and I hope it continues with many more finals to come.”
This was the first time the pair had competed in a final after playing each other five times in 2018. Thiem now leads Tsitsipas 4-2 in head-to-head meetings.
The top seed dropped serve twice in the opening set to give Tsitsipas the advantage while the Greek fired four of his seven aces to take the lead.
Tsitsipas, 21, was clearly the more fired up player, taking out his frustration on his racket after losing a point in the first set. However, Thiem recovered in the second set, saving three of four break points while converting two himself.
In the deciding set, it was Thiem who dominated, breaking twice to take a 5-0 lead.
Tsitsipas won a game back but only delayed the inevitable as Thiem wrapped up the match for his 15th ATP singles title.