Roger Federer defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 6-4 on Saturday to earn the 100th singles title of his career, as well as his eighth title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The consolation for his opponent, who sensationally defeated Federer last month at the Australian Open and was contesting his second final in two weeks, is that when the new rankings are released on Monday he will be in the top 10 for the first time. He is the first Greek to be ranked in the top 10 since ATP rankings began in 1973.
With Belinda Bencic winning the WTA title last week, it is the first time since Fabrice Santoro and Amelie Mauresmo won in 2002 that two players from the same country have won the title in the same year.
“I think this one has a deep satisfaction, an immediate one, because I know what it means,” said Federer. “I like these type of numbers or records, to be quite honest. A lot of people always emphasise all the Slams and all these things. I play on the ATP Tour. This is where I’ve won so many of them. Been around for so long. Yeah, I don’t rest between Slams all the time, like people think I might be. I think this number proves that. I think that’s why this was a very exciting week for me.
“I didn’t come here expecting I was going to win, to be quite honest. I hadn’t played since Australia. Just happy on all fronts how my game progressed, how well I played in the finals, on top of it winning the eighth, winning the 100th. So many magical things going on. Yeah, I’m very, very happy right now.”
Many of the points were short but there were also plenty of entertaining rallies and, although the match was competitive throughout, Federer was never threatened. He made an intimidating start by breaking serve in the opening game, and although he needed to fight off two break points at 5-4 he took the first set on his fourth set point. In the second set, games went comfortably with serve until Federer earned the vital break at 4-4 and served out the match to love.
“Yeah, definitely felt my best. I think I served very well. Had a high first-serve percentage in play, from the feeling anyway,” said Federer. “Yeah, I just think I played the right way. Things happened fast. Best-of-three set tennis on a fast court against somebody like Stefanos who also likes to take the ball early.
“I tried to be very aggressive myself and it worked out. I got off on a flyer in the beginning, never looked back. In the second set, I think I was overall maybe able to create a few more chances. I just felt good in defence, good in offence, good on the serve. That’s a good combination to win.”
Tsitsipas admitted that he was outplayed by Federer.
“He was very aggressive, didn’t give me any time today,” said Tsitsipas. “I mean, I was expecting it, for him to be a little more aggressive. He just seemed like having control over everything he was doing, taking the ball super early, on the rise, giving me no time to prepare. It was a very fast-tempo game. It felt like he was controlling everything on his own terms. He was just very, very aggressive. I probably didn’t make the right decisions on my serve. That’s why I lost with that score.”
The doubles title was won by Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury as they defeated Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 6-3. The pair, who only paired up for the first time at the beginning of the season, were contesting their second final of the year after they finished as runners-up in Brisbane.
“We have enjoyed so many wonderful and exciting matches throughout the two weeks of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We congratulate Roger Federer on his fantastic achievement in winning 100 titles, and winning here in Dubai for the eighth time, more than any other player. It is remarkable that his first title here came as long ago as 2003, and we look forward to welcoming both Federer and our ladies champion Belinda Bencic again in 2020.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “This week has seen no less than 17 matches go to three sets, underlining the incredible strength of talent competing in Dubai. No player could take success for granted and only three seeds reached the quarter-finals. The finale has been a fitting end to a remarkable two weeks of top-class competition and now we can look forward to many more fantastic matches next year.”