Novak defeated Simon Bolelli 6-1 6-1 in one hour, 11 minutes.
First set: it was over in 29 minutes, with rallies practically non-existent between the two combatants, qualifier Bolelli looking nervous and rushing his shots.
But for Novak, this is practically home turf. The masses adore him; red is the colour of his heart (and his shirt this week). The only disappointment was that he didn’t stay on court for longer.
With a 4-0 head-to-head in the Serb’s favour, and holding a 24-0 (now 25) win-loss record in China’s capital, Djokovic’s opponent could be forgiven for lacking a little belief today – and it showed.
“I came out with a great intensity, played some of my best tennis on this court, and managed to win against a player that I thought was playing well,” said Novak.
“He was coming out and putting pressure, trying to be aggressive. I just executed everything I wanted.”
Not until the early the stages of the second set did Bolelli settle, striking some powerful serves and taking his chances at the net. Where the games were short in the first set, the two tussled for supremacy on Novak’s serve in the second game of the second set, the errors now creeping into the defending champion’s game. But it was just a blimp; another ace (he served up eight in total), kept Novak in front.
Hunting the break in the third game, he drilled Bolelli at the net and eventually the Italian sent an easy groundstroke over the baseline to sink his hopes.
Novak, winner in Beijing on five occasions, galloped across the finish line, throwing his adoring fans sweatbands, balls, towels … even, (jokingly) his sports bag.
“I thought I played on a very high level considering it’s the first official match out there after three weeks of the US Open,” Novak said.