Nifty 'Nole' flattens Federer
Sunday 27 February 2011
There is no stopping Nole at the moment. Novak Djokovic – Nole to his friends – crushed Roger Federerfor the second time in four weeks here last night to claim his third successive title at the Dubai Duty Free Championships. Having brushed the world No 2 aside in straight sets en route to victory at last month's Australian Open, Djokovic repeatedthe feat here, winning 6-3 6-3 in only 71 minutes.
While Federer maintains a slender lead over Djokovic in the world rankings, it is now looking only a matter of time before the 23-year-old Serb overhauls him. Djokovic has won 14 matches in succession – the best run of his career – since losing to Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.
Twenty-four hours after he had struggled to beat Tomas Berdych, playing what he called his worst match of the year, Djokovic looked at the top of his game, particularly on his serve. This used to be one of the less damaging parts of his armoury, but is now one of his key weapons. In the first set he dropped only four points on serve, in the second he put all but three of his first serves in court.
Federer, meanwhile, made far too many mistakes. The Swiss has always shanked a fair percentage of his shots – the price he pays for his phenomenal racket-head speed – but he could ill afford to hand Djokovic so many free points.
"I rose to the occasion," Djokovic said afterwards. "I was aware of the challenge I would face on the court and I was aware that I needed to be on top of my game in order to beat Roger. The focus was there."
The match was played in front of an enthusiastic capacity 5,000 crowd, which included Harry Redknapp, whose Tottenham Hotspur team did not have a match over the weekend. While Djokovic had plenty of supportfrom flag-waving Serbs, there was no doubt whom the majority of the spectators were backing. Federer, who has won this title four times, has an apartment here and uses Dubai as his warm-weather training base.
Djokovic, however, took command from the third game as Federer dropped serve with three successive errors. The Swiss clung on two games later, saving two break points, but was broken again when he served at3-5, Djokovic taking the set with a thumping cross-court backhand.
The only time the Swiss threatened was early in the second set, as he broke to lead 2-1 and then held to go 3-1 up. But he did not win another game. Djokovic, returning serve superbly, broke to level at 3-3 and again two games later before serving out for victory, Federer hitting a forehand wide on the first match-point.
The former world No 1 was philosophical in defeat. "I can't play great every time," he said. "I tried tonight, but it just didn't really happen for me."
Police probe Mario Balotelli racist abuse as Kick It Out voice their displeasure
Leicester City 5 Manchester United 3: Mario Balotelli and Gary Lineker lead the trolling of United
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Live: Manchester City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Crystal Palace, plus reaction to Leicester City 5 Manchester United 3
Louis Van Gaal: I will continue churning players to stop Manchester United going stale
- 1 Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
- 2 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 4 Alex Salmond: 'The rocks would melt with the sun before I'd ever set foot in the House of Lords'
- 5 Ice Bucket Challenge: US firefighter Tony Grider dies after participating in charity craze near power lines
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell