ATP Dubai: Novak Djokovic tops Stefanos Tsitsipas to stay on Roger Federer's trail



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ATP Dubai: Novak Djokovic tops Stefanos Tsitsipas to stay on Roger Federer's trail

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic claimed the fifth title in Dubai and the first since 2013, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 17 minutes. It was the third victory for the Serb over the Greek in five encounters, securing the 21st straight victory and the 79th title overall, the second of the season after the Australian Open.

Novak got broken only once and scored three breaks from as many chances, dominating on the rival's second serve to seal the deal in straight sets, motivated to give his best a day after fending off those match points against Monfils in the semis.

Novak forced an error from Stefanos in the first point of the match, missing a smash but securing the game after a deuce following a forehand error from the Greek. The youngster fired three winners in the second game to get his name on the scoreboard and make a strong start, a much-needed factor in such big matches against the rivals from the top.

Djokovic closed the third game thanks to a forehand error from Stefanos who locked the fourth game with a forehand winner and an ace down the T line to level the score at 2-2. The fifth game saw another deuce on Novak's serve after a forehand mistake spraying another one to offer the first break chance to Tsitsipas.

Djokovic repelled it with a well-constructed attack and brought the game home thanks to a forehand error from the rival to open a 3-2 gap. Taming his shots nicely, the last year's finalist grabbed the sixth game after a service winner and the one from the backhand, passing the first part of the set without any troubles.

Novak secured the seventh game with a service winner and created the first break chance in the next one when Tsitsipas sent a backhand wide, passing the youngster with a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner to seize the break and move 5-3 in front.

Serving for the set, the Serb landed a backhand winner to secure the opener in 39 minutes, running a set away from the fifth Dubai crown and the first since 2013, not playing in the desert that often in recent years. From 30-0 down, Stefanos grabbed four straight points to close the first game with a service winner and avoid an early setback, with Djokovic leveling the score at 1-1 with a quick hold at love, still using momentum from the opener.

An unreturned serve delivered a hold at love for the Greek in game three, looking good just like in the first stage of the previous set and hoping for some opportunities on the return. Instead of that, Novak held at 15 to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard, hitting a smash winner in the next game to open a 3-2 lead with a break at 15.

Ready to fight until the end, Stefanos placed a perfect drop shot to create two break points in the next game, converting the first to pull the break back and lock the result at 3-3. The Greek held at 30 with a service winner to go back in front, leading 4-3 and gaining boost ahead of the upcoming games.

Staying calm, Djokovic held at love to send the pressure to the other side of the court, seeking another break that would propel him over the top. Precisely that happened in game nine when he stole Stefanos's serve at 15, gaining a 5-4 advantage and serving for the title in the next game.

Novak held at love with a backhand down the line winner to seal the deal in style and celebrate in the desert for the first time in seven years.