BEIJING: Andy Murray claimed the title at the China Open Sunday, taking a step toward unseating world number one Novak Djokovic, as Agnieszka Radwanska won her second Beijing crown.
Both romped to victory in straight sets on a chilly night in the Chinese capital, neither of them having dropped a set in the tournament.
Murray’s 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) win over unseeded Grigor Dimitrov is his fifth title of the year and 40th of his career, while third-ranked Radwanska sealed her win 6-4, 6-2 over Briton Johanna Konta with an ace.
The Scot’s victory moves him 1,000 points closer to long-reigning world number one Djokovic, with the chance of taking the top spot by year-end and capping off a career-best season.
“It was probably my best match of the week,” said Murray.
“Considering the conditions were fairly cold, I was still serving over a hundred miles an hour on some second serves. I felt using good variation on that shot, so I didn’t give him a chance to really attack me there and that was probably the thing that I did best tonight.”
Murray broke Dimitrov’s serve in the opening game, putting the 15th-ranked Bulgarian on the defensive as he made 21 unforced errors in the opening set.
In the second, both held their serve through the first four games until Murray broke Dimitrov at 3-2.
It looked like the Scot would serve for the championship but Dimitrov who beat Rafael Nadal en route to the final won the next 11 points, breaking Murray to love.
Pushed to a tiebreak, the three-time Grand Slam champion immediately seized back control, storming through the decider to claim his first title in the Chinese capital.
Dimitrov had received a free pass through the semi-finals after Canadian Milos Raonic pulled out with an ankle injury, but was left overwhelmed by the Scot.
“I just didn’t feel that I had another gear,” Dimitrov told reporters.
Murray is the 16th player in the Open era to win at least 40 titles and the fourth active player to accomplish the feat, joining Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer.
Radwanska’s victory was the 20th of her career but there was more on the line for Konta, 25, who was making a bid in the Chinese capital for what would have been her second and biggest title.
Despite the loss, by reaching the Beijing final Konta has amassed enough points to break into the top 10 — the first British woman to do so since Jo Durie in 1984.
When the new leaderboards are released Monday it will be the first time since computerised rankings were introduced that a British man (Murray) and woman are ranked in the top 10 at the same time.
Konta claimed two top 10 scalps en route to the final, sixth-ranked Karoline Pliskova and number eight Madison Keys, but Radwanska managed to unsettle her on Sunday.
The Briton, usually a solid baseliner, repeatedly pushed to the net as she tried to shift the match momentum in her favour, but it was a risky strategy that cost her 29 unforced errors.
“Against a player like Agnieszka, who is basically a human wall, you definitely do try to look to get the upper hand in any way possible,” Konta told reporters after the match.
After dropping her serve twice in each set, Konta made a bid to even the scoreline in the second, pushing Radwanska to two break points in the sixth game.
But the Pole nicknamed “The Magician” for her ability to conjure up shots blasted a forehand down the line to save her service game.
The world number three served for the title, firing her only ace of the match.
“I think that was a perfect timing,” Radwanska said of the ace.
It was the second time the pair have met after Radwanska beat the Briton in a two-hour, three-set battle in Cincinnati in August.
They may meet again in Singapore at the end of the month for the WTA Finals.
Radwanska has already qualified for the eight-player season finale, which follows a round-robin format, while the Briton is still chasing points to guarantee her maiden appearance.
Konta is in eighth position but could be nudged out by Wuhan Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, who is just 10 points behind her in the so-called Race to Singapore.
The Briton is playing in Hong Kong next week, hoping to rack up enough qualification points.