Flawless Djokovic wins Dubai title

  • Matt Trollope

Novak Djokovic’s 6-3 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Dubai final on Saturday has seen the Serb record his best start to a season in nine years.

The one hour, 17 minute victory was his second straight over Tsitsipas and earned him his fifth Dubai title, a 500-level event on the ATP Tour.

“I was comfortable from the back of the court playing with him,” Djokovic said

“It seems like he did drop his intensity a little bit from the previous matches. I served out the match in a great fashion, won another trophy here. I'm just obviously very, very pleased.”

The world No.1 is now 18-0 in 2020, one better than when he won his first 17 matches in 2013 before his first defeat.

And he extends his winning streak to 21, a run that also includes his three victories at last November’s Davis Cup Finals in Madrid. 
His last loss came at the ATP Finals in London to Roger Federer.

On court after the victory in Dubai, he joked – sort of – that one of his targets was to go unbeaten for the entire season.

“It's just way too early to speak about how long that run might go, the calculations. I try not to think about predictions,” he clarified during his press conference.

“Of course I'm trying to embrace the moment and appreciate where I am. I think this has been one of the best starts of all seasons I had in my career. 

“I feel great on the court. I've been playing great tennis on the hard courts. That is my most successful and preferred surface.

“I’m just grateful that I'm playing well, feeling well. I've won many matches now in a row. I'll try to keep that run going.”

Djokovic opened 2020 by winning six singles matches at the ATP Cup, which coupled with his doubles success helped guide Serbia to the inaugural title.

He then headed to Melbourne and won seven straight matches to hoist an incredible eighth Australian Open trophy.

This week, he won five more matches in Dubai to claim a 79th career singles title.

"It's just way too early to speak about how long that run might go... I'm trying to embrace the moment and appreciate where I am. I think this has been one of the best starts of all seasons I had in my career."
Novak Djokovic

Djokovic is correct – this is indeed one of the best starts to a season he has produced in his career.

It has not yet matched the level of dominance he attained in 2011, when he went 41-0 before eventually experiencing defeat in the French Open semifinals in June to Roger Federer.

And in 2020 he has been forced to dig incredibly deep to keep his unbeaten streak alive.

In the Dubai semifinals, Djokovic trailed Gael Monfils by a set and 6-3 in the second set tiebreak before saving three match points to run away with a 2-6 7-6(8) 6-1 win.

“It's like being on the edge of a cliff,” Djokovic said after improving his head-to-head record over Monfils to 17-0.

“You know there is no way back so you have to jump over and try to find a way to survive I guess and pray for the best and believe that you can make it.”

He also trailed Dominic Thiem by two sets to one in the Australian Open final – the first time he’d ever found himself in that position in a final at Melbourne Park – before recovering to win in five.

Djokovic had earlier survived three-set thrillers against Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup, all results reinforcing his reputation as a mental giant in the sport.

He next heads to Indian Wells where he will look to maintain his mastery of the men’s field while gunning for a sixth title in the Californian desert.

“The season started in the most perfect way possible,” said the world No.1. 

“I am aware of the fact that most of the matches that I'm going to play, the players will not have much to lose. They will go out and try to play their best and stop the streak. 

“At the same time the more I win, the more confident and comfortable I feel playing the next match and competing and really performing well.”