Defending champion Roger Federer won his seventh Dubai Open Saturday with an impressive 6-3, 7-5 win over World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The win was Federer’s second of the season and 84th of his career. It’s also the third time after 2003 and 2012 that Federer has won Dubai without losing a set.
“The seventh is quite unbelievable, what I hear people talking about that, announcing I’m the six-time winner here in Dubai,” said Federer after his 10th straight win in Dubai. “Sounds pretty crazy. It’s nice that Wimbledon and Halle are that way, as well.”
In a crisp, well played first set, Federer broke Djokovic in the eighth game and never was under any real threat. He then fired his 9,000th career ace to start the sixth game of the second set.
Djokovic, though, continued to gather momentum, but the Serb just couldn’t capitalize on a string of break chances late in the match, finishing a disappointing 0/7 in that category at the end.
Federer served 12 aces and won 80% of his first serve points. The serve got him out of trouble time and time again pacing his first Top 5 win of the season and his first over a World No. 1 in a final since the 2010 ATP Finals victory over Rafael Nadal.
“I think the first set belonged to me,” Federer said. “Whereas the second set belonged to him more. He created many more opportunities. I struggled to get into his service games more frequently. It seemed like the moment I wasn’t serving great he created chances for himself and put a lot of pressure on me. It was a huge game clearly at 5-5, 40/0 for him.
“I crawled my way back into the game and ended up breaking him. So that was big, but I think the break points saved were even bigger tonight.”
Said Djokovic, “I thought it was a good match. I thought there wasn’t much difference, a few points decided a winner. He was a better player in the first set. He deserved to win it. In the second set, I had a couple games at 15/40, set points. If you don’t use these opportunities against Roger, then he fires back, and then 5-5, 40/0, I lost that one. But I didn’t play too bad. I thought he just was too good in the points where maybe I had a chance, break points. He served well. He aced. I thought he played a terrific game.”
Djokovic, who had never lost in the Dubai final (4-0), was also trying to win his 50th career title. He has now lost four straight sets to Federer and drops to 20-17 against the Swiss.
“It’s been nice seeing Novak’s improvements over all these years. He’s become such an unbelievable player, especially the past five, six years, and cleaned up his game so nicely and became the best mover in the game. It’s really a pleasure playing against him every single time again.”
Djokovic, who will actually add points after improving from a semifinal last year to a final now, was pleased with his week despite the straight set loss today.
“I thought it was a good week overall,” Djokovic said. “I played some terrific tennis. I’m happy with the result here and moving into now Davis Cup and, of course, the hard court season at Indian Wells, Miami, which is going to be tough obviously. But I look forward to it. I actually do feel good about how I played and how I feel physically, and I’m motivated. So I just hope I can continue to maintain that level of high performance throughout the season.”
The two have won the Dubai title 11 of the last 13 years.
Djokovic will head back to Serbia where his Davis Cup team will welcome Croatia next weekend. Federer, who has opted out of Davis Cup for now, will have a week off before an exo against Grigor Dimitrov a week from Monday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
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