After he won the China Open for the sixth time in six appearances, Serbian world no.1 Novak Djokovic also claimed the Shanghai Masters crown for his ninth title of the 2015 tennis season. His rival at China Open was the struggling Rafael Nadal and at Shanghai, it was Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. In both finals, Djokovic came through without any hassles. The Serb didn’t drop a single set in either tournament, except being pushed to the tiebreak by Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the quarterfinals at Shanghai. In the Chinese tournaments, Djokovic wore red shirts as a mark of respect for his Chinese fans and also to extract some luck. However both victories were so emphatic that the luck factor became perfunctory.
One week after Djokovic outplayed former world no.1 Rafael Nadal of Spain at the China Open in Beijing, the Serbian overpowered Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the final of ATP1000 Shanghai Masters. Tsonga had an impressive run at Shanghai with 64 aces until he came face-to-face with Djokovic for the title game. The Serb was equal to the task with his uncanny and effective returns. He not only denied the Frenchman any aces in the opening set but also broke him three times to take the set 6-2. In the second set, Tsonga brought some aggression in his game and matched Djokovic point for point until the scores were level at 4-4. Then on his service, Tsonga committed a double-fault. The French star had to fight five break points before conceding the ninth game. All that Djokovic needed was to hold his serve to win the title 6-2, 6-4.
With just two major tournaments in the year remaining for Djokovic, the world no.1 is already at the peak with his best year-wise performance in 2015. Going into the Paris Masters next, to be followed by ATP finals in London’s O2 Arena, Djokovic will be a heavy favorite. Among his achievements this season, the Serb became one of the three players in the Open Era to reach the finals of all the four Grand Slams in a single season and joined Rod Laver and Roger Federer. With his victories at Beijing and Shanghai, he also earned $16 million in prize money. This is by far the highest earning by a player in a single season. Djokovic has also reached 13 consecutive finals in one season dating back to January 2015 and this figure is second only to Federer’s 17 straight finals in the 2005-06 season. There is a strong possibility of Djokovic finishing the season undefeated since he has never lost in Paris or London since 2012. The Serb appears to have set his eyes on two major landmarks for the 2016 season. One is the elusive French Open and the other is the men’s singles gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games.
Djokovic’s men’s singles performance in 2015 was matched only by the women’s doubles team of India’s Sania Mirza and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis. The two women began playing together in March 2015 and in 7 months; they have already won 8 trophies and their latest triumph was at the China Open in Beijing on October 10, 2015. The eight tournaments that Sania/Hingis won also included the Wimbledon and the US Open. Hingis immediately knew Sania’s worth, when she competed in the Tianjin Open with a new partner and crashed out in the first round. Playing with China’s Han Xinyun, the Swiss star went down to Croatia’s Darija Jurak, and American Nicole Melichar on October 14, 2015. But Hingis will return to playing with Sania once again in three days’ time. Their next milestone will be the BNP Paribas WTA finals beginning in Singapore on October 25, 2015. The Indo-Swiss pair is seeded no.1 and they will do their best to win another title to make the season truly remarkable.
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