Nadal ‘destroys’ agitated Kyrgios to win China Open, Halep new world No 1 after runner-up finish
Spaniard claims Beijing title – his 75th on tour – in straight sets, while Simona Halep loses out to Caroline Garcia but still claims top ranking
Rafael Nadal won his sixth title of another remarkable year by beating an agitated Nick Kyrgios at the China Open on Sunday, while unseeded Caroline Garcia stunned the new world number one.
The 16-time grand slam champion Nadal saw the Australian Kyrgios hit with a penalty point as the Spanish number one eased to a 6-2, 6-1 victory on the Beijing hard courts.
Nadal, for whom this was a landmark 75th ATP crown, came to the Chinese capital on the back of winning his third US Open.
The 31-year-old saved two match points in his nervy opener against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, but was never really in trouble as Kyrgios’ final hopes evaporated in acrimony.
The 22-year-old Australian was upset with a call in the first game and appeared unable to let it go after that, earning a warning and then a penalty point.
“I have lot of respect for Nick, he’s one of the players with more talent on the tour,” Nadal, considered one of the best players ever, said.
Nadal added that he hopes the temperamental Kyrgios, ranked 19 in the world, will one day fulfil his potential.
“The feeling is if he really wants to play and wants to work, he is one of the players that have more talent to achieve a lot of things in this sport,” said Nadal, who will go immediately on next to the Shanghai Masters.
Kyrgios, who was going after a fourth career title, said he had been “destroyed” by Nadal.
“I don’t know, I just got super frustrated,” he said.
“I mean, I obviously didn’t react professionally. Obviously that’s why I got a warning.
“But I mean, that didn’t really matter today. He played well, I played terrible.”
Unseeded Garcia of France won her second title in as many weeks as she stunned new world number one Simona Halep in a closely fought final.
Garcia is in the form of her life and edged out the Romanian second seed 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) to add the China Open to the Wuhan Open title she lifted last weekend.
Garcia’s feat was all the more remarkable because she was carrying a leg injury that has required frequent on-court treatment and completed a mammoth three-set quarter-final win well past midnight on Friday evening.
The 23-year-old, who is set to rise from number 15 to nine in the world, sank to her knees on the hard court when she finally sealed victory in the second-set tie break.
“I was like, seriously, this really happened?” Garcia said afterwards, asked what was in her mind when she slumped to her knees.
“It was such an amazing two weeks, it went so fast, I have the feeling I started these tournaments yesterday or two days ago.
“To play every single day, it was just after every match you had to forget about what happened and be on the present again.”
With rain teeming down outside ahead of what turned out to be a cracker, a leak in the Diamond Court stadium roof had threatened to dampen proceedings.
But that was soon fixed and there was little between the two players until Garcia broke Halep in the 10th game to grab the first set.
The 26-year-old Halep had the superior mobility – Garcia had her right thigh strapped – but the French player was making the better shots.
The second set was even more competitive and the attritional seventh game turned out to be a turning point.
Garcia was 0-40 down on her own serve until dragging it to 40-40 and then saving half a dozen break points before somehow winning the game to go 4-3 up.
The duo raced into the tie break, but Garcia now had the momentum and she held her nerve to make it a Wuhan-Beijing double.
Despite her disappointment Halep – thanks to reaching the final – will officially become world number one for the first time when the latest rankings are out this week.