Defending champion Roger Federer held off a strong challenge from world number one Novak Djokovic to win 6-3 7-5 and claim an historic seventh title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.
Federer, who also became only the fourth player since 1991 to fire 9,000 aces in his career, has won seven times at only two other events, Wimbledon and Halle. At the same time, Federer’s victory denied Djokovic his 50th career singles title.
It is the seventh straight year that either Federer or Djokovic has won the title, and the 11th time in 13 years that one of the two has held up the winner’s trophy.
Federer was under pressure throughout, saving two break points in the third game before breaking to lead 5-3. In the second set Djokovic had two further break points to lead 5-3, held two set points at 5-4 and another after Federer had broken to lead 6-5.
“I think the first set belonged to me, whereas the second set belonged to him more,” said Federer. “He created many more opportunities. I struggled to get into his service games more frequently. It seemed like the moment I wasn’t serving great he created chances for himself and put a lot of pressure on me.
“It was a huge game clearly at 5-All, 40-Love for him. I crawled my way back into the game and ended up breaking him. So that was big, but I think the break points saved were even bigger tonight.”
Federer is obviously proud of being so successful in Dubai.
“The seventh is quite unbelievable, what I hear people talking about that, announcing I’m the seven or six-time winner here in Dubai. Sounds pretty crazy,” he said. “I guess it definitely helps practicing in Dubai quite a bit. I know how the ball flies and the conditions here.”
VIDEO: Roger Federer – The Best Points during Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2015 (video courtesy-SuperTennis)
Djokovic admitted that Federer had risen well to the challenge that he had posed him.
“I thought it was a good match,” said Djokovic. “I thought there wasn’t much difference, a few points decided a winner. I think in important moments maybe I could have been maybe a little bit more aggressive, but small margins, really.
“I thought he just was too good in the points where maybe I had a chance, break points. He served well. He aced. Then, you know, maybe a volley that hit the line. I congratulate him. He deserved it.
“I thought it was a good week overall. I played some terrific tennis. I’m happy with the result here.”
The doubles title was won by Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor, who took just 50 minutes to defeat Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4 6-1. It is their second title of the season and their second together. Bopanna won the title last year with Qureshi, and Nestor was appearing in his fifth Dubai doubles final, with his only previous victory coming in 2002.
“We have enjoyed two magnificent weeks of tennis played at the very highest level, with several exciting upsets and many close matches keeping us on the edge of our seats,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organizers. “We have welcomed back old friends, and seen new stars such as Karolina Pliskova and Borna Coric making a major impact and we wish them well for the future.
“But there can be only one winner each week, and we congratulate Simona Halep for her first title here, and Roger Federer for winning his 7th. It is a remarkable achievement. We look forward to welcoming them and all the other outstanding players back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in 2016 for another fortnight of truly world class competition.”