SHANGAI - Serbia's world number three Novak Djokovic crushed Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5 to win the $4.45 million Masters Cup yesterday.
The Australian Open champion, who lost all his matches without winning a set on his debut at the season-ending shootout last year, played his best tennis of the week in the final. The 21-year-old Djokovic 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 $1.24 million to move to within 10 ranking points of 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 an hour.
World number five Davydenko, who beat 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. 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.
Davydenko saved two match points at 5-3 in the second set and grabbed his first break of the match for 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.