In their fifth meeting on the Tour, Novak Djokovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the final in Dubai, claiming his second ATP title of the season and extending the winning streak to 21 matches. Stefanos lost the final in Dubai to Roger Federer a year ago, hoping to go one step further last week but finding no solutions against the world's leading player who lost serve once and produced three breaks from as many chances to seal the deal in straight sets and claim the first title in the desert since 2013.
Stefanos had his chances in the first part of the match, serving well and creating a break opportunity in game five. Novak saved it and grabbed the last three games from 3-3 to wrap up the opener, forging a 3-2 advantage in set number two before Tsitsipas pulled it back straight away to stay in contention.
Just like in the first set, the Serb shifted into a higher gear and grabbed 12 of the last 13 points, breaking the youngster at love in the ninth game and sealing the deal with a hold at love a few minutes later for the ATP crown number 79.
After the match, Djokovic praised Tsitsipas, his game and intelligence, calling him a future world no. 1 and Major champion. "I understand Stefanos, although I haven't heard him speak about that or read that," Djokovic said.
"You go through the process of self-realization and learning, maturing, then understanding what's good for you in life and career. He's a mature man already; he's young in terms of the perspective of professional sport, but he's been around.
He's very smart and wise; I mean, you heard his words on the court. I told him that after the match, I told him that I love that about him, I love the fact that he is more than just a tennis player and he's always looking to learn from the experience and to understand something new about himself so he can improve, get better.
For me, that's a trait of a champion, of someone that for sure has a great potential to be No. 1 in the world and win Majors as a great ambassador of our sport. He already is, but he has a great future ahead of him, I'm sure.
Parents, family members, the closest people in your life that have been there since day one are your greatest support; they all want the best for you. I know both of his parents, they're nice people. They care about him being the best tennis player he can be and also the best person he can be; I think they're doing an excellent job."