ALI HAIDER / EPA
CAIRO - 1 March 2020: 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.”
John Peers and Michael Venus defeated Raven Klaasen and Oliver Marach 6-3 6-2 to win the doubles trophy. It is their first ATP Tour title together, and they claimed all their victories during the week in straight sets, including an upset quarter-final win over defending Dubai champions and 2020 Australian Open winners Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. Like the champions, Klaasen and Marach were playing in their first final together, and they had also reached the final without conceding a set.
“We congratulate Novak Djokovic on achieving an incredible 79th career title and his fifth victory in Dubai, and Stefanos Tsitsipas on once again reaching the final,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We have very much enjoyed watching both of them and all the other 30 players who have competed so well during the 28th year of the tournament. We congratulate too our 2020 doubles champions John Peers and Michael Venus.
“Last week as well produced so many thrilling matches, and it was wonderful to see not only Simona Halep celebrate the 20th anniversary of the WTA event here by winning her second Dubai title, but also one of the most exciting new players to emerge on the WTA Tour, Elena Rybakina. It was also a great pleasure to see Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova retain their doubles title. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Dubai next year.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “We have enjoyed two of the most competitive weeks in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, with both champions having to save match point during the week before claiming their title. The ladies champion, Simona Halep, had to save a match point in her opening match against Ons Jabeur, and Novak Djokovic had to save three match points against Gael Monfils in the semi-finals. Now we look forward to an equally exciting tournament in 2021.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.