Serbia's Novak Djokovic defeated Spain's Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the final at the China Open.
The 26-year-old Djokovic now has four titles in Beijing, where his winning streak stands at 20 matches.
"This season I had a lot of ups and downs - I lost the last few matches against Nadal, very important matches," Djokovic said. "Looking from that perspective, it meant a lot to me. I feel relieved in a way, and I can kind of try to continue on playing the tennis that I played today."
Nadal, however, will be back in the No. 1 spot when the new ATP rankings come out on Monday, ousting Djokovic from the coveted slot.
"I wasn't able to create any chances when I was returning during the whole match," the 27-year-old Nadal said. "He was able to hit all the balls that he wanted to hit. When that's happening against a player like Novak, you are dead."
Djokovic ended his three-match losing streak to Nadal, who beat him in the French Open semifinals, the Masters 1000 event in Montreal and the U.S. Open final.
"I love the court and the atmosphere that goes around the tournament. I try to cherish every moment that I spend here every year," Djokovic said in response to a question about the China Open.
Nadal is returning to the No. 1 spot for the first time since mid-2011, thanks, in large part, to his dominating performance on hard courts.
The Spaniard was out of action for seven months from mid-2012 until early 2013 due to a serious knee injury and illness, but he has won 10 of the 13 tournaments he has played since returning to the Tour, including his eighth French Open title and his second U.S. Open crown.
Djokovic wrested the No. 1 ranking away from Nadal in July 2011 and, after relinquishing it a year later to Roger Federer, grabbed it back in November 2012 and had held it since.
This will be Nadal's third stint at No. 1, having previously held the top ranking in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011.
Djokovic is now 12-7 against Nadal on hard courts. EFE