Roger Federer took his seventh title at Dubai after defeating Novak Djokovic in the final on Saturday. The Dubai event has gained in popularity among top tennis stars over the years and for Federer it was the 12th visit to this ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournament. He has come off in flying colors reaching the finals on 9 occasions. The 33-year old Swiss recorded his first victory in 2003 and followed that in 2004 and 2005. His next three victories came in 2007, 2012 and 2014 and he finished runners-up in 2006 and 2011. Yesterday’s victory also marked the second ATP World Tour title of the 2015 season that began with his victory at the Brisbane Open in January. At Brisbane, Federer recorded his 1000th match win, when he defeated Canadian Milos Raonic in the final. In the final against Djokovic yesterday, Federer also crossed a 9000 aces milestone, when he sent down a service winner at the start of the sixth game in the second set. In all Federer fired 12 aces and took his tally to 9007.
Despite his ultimate victory, Federer didn’t begin the first set very well. He had to stave off two break points that Djokovic forced. But once he saved those points, his game improved markedly. He earned a break point in the eighth game and converted it and after that it was simply a matter of holding his serve for closing the first set at 6-3. In the second set, Djokovic came back strongly and engaged Federer in a few long rallies. Fedrerer’s unforced error count went up just a shade and he yielded two break points to the Serbian at 15/40 in the eighth game. In the 10th game too, Djokovic got unlucky, when Federer offered two set points but the Serb faltered at the crunch time. The Swiss held his nerve just when it was most needed and averted going into the decider. After firing 4 aces in the first set, Federer blasted 8 more in the second. In the 11th game, when Djokovic was ahead 40-0 on his service, Federer produced a little flash of brilliance to break Djokovic’s serve and take a 6-5 lead with his service to follow. There was some shakiness when the Swiss prepared to serve for the match. On his first match point, he drove the ball crashing into the net and yielded another break point opportunity to the Serbian. Unfortunately for Djokovic he missed that chance too, as Federer saved the seventh break point and served out for the match to emerge 6-3, 7-5 winner.
Federer admitted afterwards that though he controlled the first set, the second one belonged to Djokovic but it was not the Serbian’s day. Apart from taking the Dubai title for the seventh time, Federer also improved his head-to-head match record with Djokovic. He now has a 20-17 lead over the world no.1. Though Federer has beaten Djokovic in the semifinals, it was his first victory over the Serb in the final since their Cincinnati clash in 2012. The Serbian was graceful in defeat and said that it was always a tall order to be playing with his long-time Swiss rival. He complimented Federer on his tenacity and attacking display that yielded 37 winners with the Swiss scoring 80 percent of his first serve points.