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Djokovic Wins Fourth Dubai Crown

Dubai, UAE

Djokovic© Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsNovak Djokovic with his fourth Dubai crown.

Novak Djokovic clinched his fourth title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.

The World No. 1 recorded a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 6-ranked Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the evening final, which was watched by 5,000 spectators at the Dubai Tennis Stadium. The match lasted just over 90 minutes.

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Djokovic extended his winning streak to 18 matches, which also includes last year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (d. Federer) and the Australian Open (d. Murray) in January. His last loss came to Sam Querrey in the BNP Paribas Masters second round on 31 October 2012.

Djokovic, who also lifted the Dubai trophy in 2009 (d. Ferrer), 2010 (d. Youzhny) and 2011 (d. Federer), earned $429,600 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points. Berdych received $193,700 and 300 points.

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“My serving today was great, [I had a] very high percentage of first serves, over 200 [kilometres per hour]," said Djokovic. "I really felt that I could rely on my serve. And in tough moments, that part of my game actually helped me to prevail. To be honest, I haven't played as aggressive and maybe as good as I have played in yesterday's match [versus Juan Martin del Potro] or previous matches during this week. But that's also because I had [my] toughest challenge.  

“Tomas was obviously aggressive from the start and feeling confident after a win against Roger [Federer]. I backed it up and I was playing from my back foot a bit and giving him too much time to control the points. That resulted with a break down, and then he missed a few easy shots on break points first and second set that gave me the victory basically. I felt when I came from break down that I started believing in myself a little bit more. I hung in there and stayed tough. This is the important thing.”

Berdych broke Djokovic’s serve to 30 in the fifth game, passing the Serbian with a superb crosscourt forehand winner. But the Czech’s advantage was short-lived as he struck a routine forehand volley into the net on break point at 4-3, then was unable to convert three break point opportunities in the next game. The 51-minute first set ended with Berdych double faulting at 5-6, 15/40.

In the early stages of the second set Berdych tightened up his serve, while Djokovic quit attacking the net in favour of baseline battles. Berdych squandered a two-point lead on Djokovic’s serve at 3-3. It was the closest he came to breaking. In a lengthy eighth game, Djokovic broke decisively, and, with a little bit of a struggle, went onto close out his 28th match win in Dubai. He is now 36-19 in championship matches.

“I have been enjoying my time, always coming here with a big team, with family, friends," said Djokovic. "Everybody has been welcomed. This generosity of the people and from the organisation is always remembered. So this is definitely one of my favourite tournaments throughout the year. Winning it four times now is something that I definitely enjoy.”

Berdych admitted, “I was able to play the rallies with him quite well, especially from the baseline, and trying to hold him under the pressure. The beginning was really good, but this is just really [a] small step that was working for few games. Saying that I lost the match because I didn't volley that well wouldn't be fair. I mean there was two or three points, but, no, I wouldn't see that as the deciding moment or deciding points.”

Berdych has now lost all 12 of his hard-court meetings with Djokovic. He was the first Czech play to reach the Dubai final since Jiri Novak in 2003. He saved three match points in a 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 win over second seed and five-time champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Friday night.

Berdych dropped to 8-10 in tour-level doubles final. Six days ago, he finished runner-up at the Open 13 in Marseille (l. to Tsonga). He has a 14-4 match record on the season.

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