Novak Djokovic continued with his 2015 run in the new season as he outplayed Rafael Nadal without breaking sweat to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open and brought his tour-level title count to 60. The Doha victory was also Djokovic’s sixth consecutive ATP world tour title and he etched his name as only the 10th player in the Open Era to do so. In India, Stan Wawrinka clinched his third Chennai Open title and fourth overall in five finals. On Sunday the Swiss world no.4 defeated the Croatian rising star Borna Coric in the final. However at Brisbane, Roger Federer failed to repeat his 2015 performance and yielded to the Canadian Milos Raonic in the final. Raonic thus avenged his last year’s defeat against the Swiss and made a fine start to the new tennis season.
World no.1 Novak Djokovic demonstrated his awesome game against someone, with whom he had the most meetings in the Open Era. If a few years were to be rolled back, it was Nadal, who dominated the Serb in the most prolific professional rivalry in tennis but with the Spaniard’s form taking a hit in recent times, the tables have been turned. The two tennis greats have now played each other 47 times and it was only at Doha on Sunday that Djokovic could overtake Nadal with his 24th win over Nadal. It is remarkable that in the last 10 meetings between the two, Djokovic has recorded 9 victories. Over the week in the Qatar Open, Djokovic didn’t drop a set and played his best tennis in the final against Nadal. Last year at Doha, the Serb had a quarter-final exit, when he lost to Ivo Karlovic but he erased that memory in 2016. In the first set, Nadal watched helplessly as Djokovic sent down 16 winners past him and lost just one game. It wasn’t much different in the second as Nadal took just one extra game and faced another 14 winners from the opposite end. Djokovic was through with a 6-1, 6-2 one-sided victory in a mere 73 minutes.
At Chennai, Stan Wawrinka ensured his third consecutive title by defeating Croatian youngster Borna Coric. Through the tournament, the 30-year old Swiss didn’t drop a set and entered the final by beating Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinal. Coric, on the other hand, had tougher games playing several three-setters and he reached the final by defeating Britain’s Aljas Bedene 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 in the semifinal. In the title game on Sunday, Wawrinka dominated with 15 aces and his scorching backhand left Coric literally powerless. The 19-year old Croat did put up some resistance in the second set but Wawrinka still sailed through at 6-3, 7-5 to take his fourth title in five finals. The Swiss was runner-up in 2010 and won at Chennai for the first time in 2011. He repeated that success in 2014 and 2015 as well.
In the Brisbane International, Milos Raonic extracted the revenge for his 2015 final loss to Roger Federer. The 25-year-old Canadian used his booming serve and forehand to good effect and broke Federer’s serve once in each set. He also visited the net 13 times out of which he scored 10 points to beat Federer 6-4, 6-4 in Sunday’s final. The Canadian also benefitted from some sloppy errors committed by the Swiss superstar on crucial points. It was only the second time that Raonic had defeated Federer in their 11 meetings but the victory gave a boost to Raonic’s campaign in the new season. Injury had prevented Raonic from playing several tournaments towards the end of the last season and ended way beyond ATP’s 10 top-ranked players at no.14.
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