World number one Novak Djokovic eased past Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to lift his fifth Dubai Tennis Championships title on Saturday, extending his unbeaten start to the 2020 season.
Both players looked solid on serve early in the opening set before Djokovic turned the screw to break in the eighth game with a searing crosscourt backhand winner.
The Serb closed out the set and continued to press home his advantage with another break of serve early in the second.
Tsitsipas fought back to draw level at 3-3 but went on to commit a string of unforced errors and concede two break points in the ninth game.
Djokovic surprised his opponent with a wonderfully disguised drop shot to take the lead before sealing victory on the first of his three championship points with a backhand winner down the line.
“It was very close even though it was a straight-set win,” said Djokovic, who also won the Dubai titles in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.
“I was fortunate to hold my serve at the start of the match.”
Djokovic has now won 21 straight matches, including 18 this season, having already lifted the inaugural ATP Cup with Serbia and a record-extending eighth Australian Open title last month.
The 32-year-old dropped just one set in Dubai this week as he fought off three match points to overcome Frenchman Gael Monfils in the semi-finals.
“Yesterday I was one shot away from losing the match when three match points down, and it could have easily happened I was not here. That is sport - things can turnaround quickly,” said Djokovic.
“I have played really well in most of the matches. This is a big win for me.”
Nadal tops Fritz to win title in Acapulco
Rafael Nadal captured his third Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC title on Saturday, continuing his good vibes with a triumph in the final over Taylor Fritz with a 6-3, 6-3 victory.Nadal survived 10 aces from Fritz and broke the service three times to outperform the 22-year-old American.
“I couldn’t be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end,” Nadal told reporters.
“Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing. I can’t thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time.” The world No. 2 Nadal captured the title 15 years after he won his first in 2005. He also won the crown in 2013.
Nadal stormed through the draw without dropping a set and improved to 20-2 in the event overall.
Fritz had reached the final by rallying from a set behind and 2-4 deficit to John Isner but he could mount no such comeback against Nadal. Fritz is the only American besides Sam Querrey in 2017 to reach the final in Acapulco. Despite the defeat, Fritz reached his first final at an ATP 500 event.
“He’s one of the best players to ever play the game and he showed me why that is tonight,” Fritz said.
“This is one of my favourite tournaments to come to every year. I’m just glad that I could have a good week at one of my favourite events. I felt a lot of love all week.”
Sabalenka topples Kvitova to claim Doha crown
Aryna Sabalenka claimed her sixth WTA title as she swept past two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final on Saturday.
The Belarusian struck seven aces and 21 winners in an aggressive display as she proved too strong for Kvitova, who was unbeaten in her last 10 matches in Doha.
Battling to stay in the match, Kvitova created five break point opportunities in the fourth game of the second set but Sabalenka was equal to the task.
The 21-year-old clawed back with consecutive aces to clinch the game before producing a string of powerful groundstrokes to break Kvitova’s serve to love on her way to victory.
It brings Sabalenka her third title over the last six months after winning in Wuhan and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, and she will also move up to 11th in the WTA rankings on Monday.
Sabalenka dedicated her triumph to her father Sergey, who passed away in November at the age of 43.
“I lost my dad in the pre-season and he was my great motivation,” she said. “I’m doing this for him.”