Novak Djokovic holds the trophy after he beats Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the final match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai on Saturday. AP
World number one Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4 to win his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships crown, and his first since 2013. It was the first men’s final between the top two seeds in Dubai since 2015, and Tsitsipas was denied the title for the second straight year after falling to Roger Federer in the 2019 final. It was also the fifth Dubai final in tournament history between the top two seeds, but the first time that the number one seed has won the contest.
Djokovic has now won 18 consecutive matches this season in a period that has seen him lift the ATP Cup trophy for Serbia and his eighth Australian Open crown as well as Dubai, and he now holds 79 career titles.
“Of course I'm trying to embrace the moment and appreciate where I am,” said Djokovic. “I think this has been one of the best starts of all seasons I had in my career. I feel great on the court. I've been playing great tennis on the hard court that is my most successful and preferred surface. I'm just grateful that I'm playing well, feeling well. I've won many matches now in a row. I'll try to keep that run going. It's just way too early to speak about how long that run might go, the calculations.”
The match was close throughout, but it was Djokovic who held the edge in what was always an entertaining finale to the tournament. After saving a break point at 2-2, Djokovic claimed the only break of the first set to lead 5-3. Djokovic broke again to lead 3-2 in the second set but was unable to consolidate his lead as Tsitsipas levelled at 3-3. A final break to lead 5-4 though was decisive as Djokovic served out the match at love.
Despite his tentative start, Djokovic was happy with the way the rest of the match unfolded.
“Yeah, again I think it was a little bit of a slow start from me,” said Djokovic. “I was fortunate to hold my service games.
He was very close to break my serve first three service games that I had in the first set. After that, that probably decisive break of serve at 4-3 that allowed me to serve it out for the set, I felt mentally I started having a little bit more of an advantage on the court. You could sense that I got the momentum. I didn't want to lose the momentum.
“I was comfortable from the back of the court playing with him. It seems like he did drop his intensity a little bit from the previous matches. As he was saying on the court (during the trophy presentation), it was a tiring week for him, I guess tiring couple of weeks, because he played every single day more or less since 10 days ago or two weeks ago in Marseille, starting there, winning a trophy and coming to finals here. Anyway, nevertheless it had to be done in a right way. I served out the match in a great fashion, won another trophy here. I'm just obviously very, very pleased.” Tsitsipas, who was bidding to win his second trophy in two weeks after successfully defending his Marseille title, was naturally deflated after his defeat.
“I don't really feel much, honestly,” he said. “I think I just felt more happy first year when I made the finals. For sure I'm proud of myself because I showed good discipline and I managed to play the same this year. But it's kind of disappointing trying so hard and much and not really getting the final result that you want. For sure I would love to see myself holding that trophy. Of course, he gave more than me and he deserves it. I just think that breakpoint in the first set could have some sort of a difference if I would just return that serve a bit more deep.”
Still unvaccinated among the top 10 players of the world, the 34-year-old Serbian star was twice detained and deported from Australia after an 11-day saga where he had spent five nights at an immigration detention hotel.
Events include 20 international championships that will bring the world’s top tennis players and the superstars of international cycling, among others, to the city.
Novak Djokovic will make a welcome return to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next month in a bid to reclaim the title he last won in 2013.
Eighteen Pakistan players and 15 support staff are due to travel to India. Earlier, the PCB had expressed its disappointment with the ICC over the delays.
UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation announced that its four-strong dressage team has passed the vet check and will go on to compete on Tuesday, in the team competition and individual qualification.
Lock Thibaud Flament studied at Loughborough University in England, full-back Melvyn Jaminet had never played a Top 14 game and winger Gabin Villiere was a second-team scrum-half in the French fifth-tier before bursting onto the international scene.
Batting first India reached 116-7 in their 20 overs with Smriti Mandhana (46) and Jemimah Rodrigues (42) putting on 73 for the second wicket. Sri Lanka's chase started badly when they were reduced to 14-3 in the fifth over by a devastating spell from right-arm seamer Titas Sadhu.