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Tour report - Del Potro, Djokovic and Williams scoop spoils

Juan Martin Del Potro triumphed in Tokyo
by Alexandra Willis
Monday 7 October 2013

Titles for Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Juan Martin Del Potro, and Rafael Nadal's return to No.1. Wimbledon.com reports on the weekend's events...

In the aftermath of his crushing five-set loss to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals this year, Juan Martin Del Potro, all 6ft 6ins of him, lumbered to the locker room, crying his eyes out. The Argentine had played arguably the tennis of his career on grass, hobbled by a knee injury, in coming so close to taking down the world No.1. So it was gratifying to see the 2009 US Open champ wearing a far happier expression in Tokyo this weekend, as he claimed his third title of the season. 

The top seed sneaked past the in-form Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 7-5 at the Ariake Coliseum, set to be the home of the Olympic tennis event for the 2020 Games in the Japanese capital. 

Raonic had come into the event on an eight-match winning streak having won in Bangkok last week, but it was Del Potro who played the big points that little bit better, describing it as a "fantastic week."

With confirmation from the ATP that David Ferrer, who will leap-frog the absent Andy Murray into the world No.3 spot next week, has qualified to join Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Murray at their glittering season-ender in London next month, Del Potro looks set to be next in line, but Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer are right on his heels, with Stanislas Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet set to do down to the French-speaking wire for the last spot. 

Del Potro's return to form aside, the weekend was notable for a new twist in the Nadal and Djokovic chronicles. The pair entered their 38th contest in the Beijing final knowing that Nadal would take the No.1 spot off Djokovic whatever the result, so it was perhaps fitting that the Serb's response was to beat his rival for the first time since Monte Carlo in April, halting a run of three straight losses. 

"I needed this win today," Djokovic said, claiming his fourth Beijing title 6-3, 6-4. "I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013. It's very important for my confidence. It's very important mentally and emotionally for me."

"I didn't see the way to stop him this afternoon," Nadal said. "I was not able to have any chance when I was returning during the whole match. He had the ball staying very low. It was very difficult to create spin on this ball. He was able to hit all the balls where he wanted. When that's happening against a player like Novak, you are dead. You don't have not one chance."

The result ended Nadal's 22-match winning streak, and was his first loss on hard courts in 2013, but, back as world No.1 for the first time since July 2011, his sights are set on becoming the first player to win six ATP Masters 1000 titles in a season in Shanghai this week. The left-hander's return to form, having played 13 finals in 14 tournaments, with just the first-round loss at Wimbledon the major blot in his season's copybook, remains astounding. 

“When you are injured at home, you can’t think about coming back and playing 13 finals in 14 tournaments. You never think about something like this,” Nadal said. “I’m just so happy for everything. I try to keep working hard. I’m going to try to keep playing and keep working on the things that gave me the success during most of the tournaments of this year."

The WTA headlines, true to form, were dominated by Serena Williams, who battled both a bad back and her opponents to claim her 10th title of the year and 56th of her career, beating Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-2 in Beijing. With 65 straight sets wins and 24 bagel sets, she has become the most dominant female player in a season since Martina Navratilova in 1983 and 1984, and has overtaken Lindsay Davenport and Virginia Wade's haul of 55 titles. The next milestone is Billie Jean King's 67. 

"It's been a long year, so I was really happy to win," Williams said. "That's why I said I really didn't expect to come and win this tournament. I just wanted to do well this week."

Next on Serena's agenda is training in France ahead of the season-ending WTA Championships in Istanbul. If she can win that one too, defending her title, she would overtake Justine Henin as the last woman to win 10 titles in a season, and be just one short of Martina Hingis, who was the last woman to win 12 in a season, in 1997.

"It's definitely one of the best seasons I've had in my career. I don't know if it's the best - for me, winning three Grand Slams in one season is pretty amazing. And also winning two Grand Slams and two gold medals in one season is pretty amazing, too. So I think those are the top three of my career."

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