Novak Djokovic rallied from a break down in the first set to win his fourth Dubai Championships title in five years on Saturday, downing third-seeded Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-3.
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The top-ranked Djokovic extended his unbeaten streak this year to 13 matches, which included his third straight Australian Open title. He’s won 13 of their last 14 meetings en route to his 36th career title.
”It was never going to be an easy final for either one of us,” Djokovic said. ”Tomas is a fantastic player. He has been around the tour and was a Grand Slam finalist (at Wimbledon). … I’m just fortunate to go through.”
In an early display of power tennis, the sixth-ranked Czech used blistering groundstrokes and a serve that approached 132 mph. He hit a crosscourt winner to break Djokovic and go up 3-2 in the first set and extended it to 4-2 with another crosscourt winner.
But errors began creeping into the Czech’s game and Djokovic took advantage.
The Serb broke to draw even when Berdych missed an easy volley winner and then saved three break points to make it 5-4. Djokovic broke Berdych a second time to win the set when the Czech made three unforced errors and finished with a double-fault.
”Well, I just wanted to hang in there and just try to wait for my chance to come back to the match. When it was presented, I took it,” Djokovic said. ”He basically gave me that break on 4-3 when he missed an easy volley. But still, I fought it and I believed I can come back, and that’s I think something that can eventually decide the winner in these kind of matches.”
Djokovic broke to go up 5-3 in the second when Berdych hit a foreland long, and then saved a break point in the next game before clinching the victory with a forehand winner.
After beating 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the semifinals, Berdych was looking to take down the world’s top two players in the same tournament for the first time.
”I had a break, but playing with the best returning guy on tour, it’s just (an) advantage but not something really huge,” Berdych said. ”It was a quite good game, but it was not enough today.
”These guys (Djokovic and Federer), you can just basically go there, try your best and if it doesn’t happen, all right. They are the first and second player in the world and possibly the best two for many, many years. That’s how it is.”