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Djokovic Vows To Fight For Year-End No. 1

Beijing, China

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic is confident ahead of his 38th encounter with Rafael Nadal.

With Rafael Nadal having usurped his perch atop the Emirates ATP Rankings less than a month after denying him a second US Open crown, Novak Djokovic will be eager to dent his rival’s stellar form. Nadal’s 26-0 hard court record in 2013 and Djokovic’s 18-0 mark in Beijing hang in the balance in the final of the China Open on Sunday.

The Serb acknowledges Nadal’s remarkable year, but remains focused on the task at hand: a third consecutive year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. “It's obvious that being No. 1 at this time, especially in this era, is an ultimate goal and challenge for anybody. I know how hard it is because I've been fighting for that place for last couple of years.  I know what a player needs to do in order to end a year at No. 1.”

Read: Djokovic Vs. Nadal Rivalry

Djokovic takes solace in the fact that the season is far from over and there are plenty of points up for grabs. "I have some room to get points here and there, but generally I just want to keep on playing well. I'm just happy to be in the finals here," he added. "Hopefully if I maintain this rhythm, the end results will follow the good performance…I'm looking forward to the challenge tomorrow. Regardless of the rankings, I'm going to fight for the trophy tomorrow.”

This will be the 38th meeting between Djokovic and Nadal, but the first at the China Open. The Spaniard defeated the Serb in the semi-finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the same venue. “I think it's the most encounters that two players had in the history of this sport,” Djokovic said. “It's almost 40. It's an incredible number. I still feel that we're going to have many more…Whenever we play each other, very few details and points decide the winners. I'm expecting it's going to be that way tomorrow.”

The soon-to-be World No. 2 understands the challenge in facing Nadal. “He's always playing at an incredibly high level and you know what to expect from his side. He's going to fight from the first to the last point and make you earn every point that you play against him. He's, as I said, the best player in this moment. I need to step up and try to play my best game.”

The Belgrade native is the defending champion in Beijing and has claimed three of the previous four crowns in the Chinese capital city.

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