7th Heaven for Federer in Dubai
Roger Federer retained his title as the King of Dubai on Saturday, capturing his seventh career Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title with a high-level 6-3, 7-5 victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The 33-year-old improved to 7-2 career in Dubai finals alone, and marked his second title of 2015 after Brisbane.
“I think the first set belonged to me,” the Swiss 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 was a huge game clearly at 5-5, 40-love 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.”
Djokovic fell to 1-1 in finals this year after claiming the Australian Open title, and now trails Federer 17-20 in their head-to-head meetings. Djokovic contributed a key double fault at 5-5 in the second set that eventually led to the game break of serve.
“I thought there wasn’t much difference, a few points decided a winner,” the Serb said. “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.”
The victory was the first for Federer over Djokovic in a final since 2012 in Cincinnati.
Unseeded Safarova Snaps Streaks for Qatar Crown
Unseeded Lucie Safarova snapped an 0-3 career streak in WTA Premier-level events to win the biggest title of her career on Saturday, defeating former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3 for the Qatar Total Open title.
“I felt really good all week here and my performances were better and better, and I just wanted to use the opportunity to really go for it and take the title,” Safarova said. “I think I just really enjoyed it out there tonight, the atmosphere, the crowd — and just really went for every point.”
Safarova was 0-6 career versus Azarenka entering the final. En route to the championship match Safarova toppled No. 5 seed Ekaterina Makarova, No. 6 Andrea Petkovic and No. 9 Carla Suarez Navarro.
Her sixth career title and first since 2013 will put her at a career-high No. 11 on the WTA Rankings.
“My game improved a lot the last couple of years,” she said. “I think me and my coach Rob have done a great job together. It’s just hard work and also maturing a little bit — I think it’s just everything coming together right now.”
Azarenka, still progressing after a return from injury in 2014, was on a 14-match winning streak in Qatar after winning the 2012-13 titles, missing last year’s event with a foot injury.
“It’s been a while since I had that many matches in a row,” said Azarenka, who at the end of the match appeared to be experiencing foot or ankle pain. “Sometimes the body needs to get back into that rhythm. It wasn’t my best today, but I tried my best…I’m still really motivated. I’m obviously disappointed for losing the final today, but I just have to move on from this quickly.”
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