On this day: Novak Djokovic tops Roger Federer for Dubai three-peat



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On this day: Novak Djokovic tops Roger Federer for Dubai three-peat

On February 26, 2011, the top seeds Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer met in the final of Dubai, with the Serb scoring a 6-3, 6-3 triumph in an hour and 12 minutes for the eighth win over the Swiss in 21 encounters. Novak was the two-time defending champion and he went on to become the second player with three back-to-back titles in Dubai after Roger, going two from two in what would become one of the greatest Open era seasons after he already conquered the Australian Open.

Federer had shown the most before the final, losing serve twice in four matches to advance into the sixth Dubai final, visiting one of his favorite events for the first time since that opening-round loss to Andy Murray in 2008.

Novak lost a set against Feliciano Lopez and Tomas Berdych, doing enough to pass all those obstacles and set the anticipated final clash against Roger, toppling the Swiss for the second time that year after the semi-final of the Australian Open.

In the most critical encounter of the tournament, Novak left Roger far behind, losing 13 points behind the initial shot and dropping serve once from just two opportunities offered to Federer. The Swiss was far from those numbers, giving away almost half of the points on serve and having to play against ten break chances, suffering four breaks to finish on the losing side.

Federer had more winners but also nearly 30 unforced errors, unable to break Novak's defense and with too many forced errors as Djokovic spread him over the court perfectly. The Serb had the advantage in the shortest points, taming Roger's initial shot and groundstroke while dominating in the mid-range and longer rallies as well to emerge as deserved champion.

Federer held at 15 with a forehand winner in the opening game but Novak was ready for every challenge, landing an ace in game two to level the score and get his name on the scoreboard before breaking Roger in game three after a loose backhand from the Swiss.

A booming serve sent Djokovic 3-1 up and a forehand-to-forehand rally he grabbed in game five gave him another break chance, wasting it after a rare forehand error before Federer saved the second break point with a forehand winner to remain within one break deficit.

Three service winners pushed Djokovic 4-2 in front, delivering another excellent hold in game eight and completing a perfect set with a break for a 6-3 after 34 minutes. The Serb kicked off the second set with a hold at 15 before he finally faced troubles in game three when his backhand found the net, saving the first break chance but falling on the second after an unforced backhand error that sent Roger 2-1 up.

The Swiss held at 15 with a service winner to confirm the advantage but his good run didn't last for long, missing a smash in the sixth game to bring Novak back to 3-3 and send momentum to the side of the Serb. A service winner secured the next game for Djokovic who moved closer to the finish line when Roger sprayed a backhand error in game eight, forging a 5-3 lead and putting one hand on the trophy.

Novak wrapped up the title with a hold at 15 in the ninth game, moving over the top when Roger's forehand landed long to secure the third straight Dubai crown.