Novak Djokovic's Dubai victory widens gulf to his rivals - Tennis - Sport - The Independent

Novak Djokovic's Dubai victory widens gulf to his rivals

 

dubai

The Novak Djokovic bandwagon is showing no signs of slowing down. The world No 1 won his 18th match in a row here last night, beating Tomas Berdych 7-5 6-3 to claim his fourth title in the past five years at the Dubai Duty Free Championships and extend the ever-widening gap between himself and his rivals at the top of the world rankings.

Djokovic, who did not drop a set all week and played better with every match, has been on fire ever since losing to Andy Murray in last year's US Open final. He has won five of the six tournaments he has played since New York, his only defeat coming at the Paris Masters in October, when his mind was clearly elsewhere, his father having been taken seriously ill.

The 36th title of Djokovic's career is set to take the 25-year-old Serb some 3,700 points clear of Roger Federer, the world No 2, in tomorrow's updated rankings. It is hard to envisage any scenario, other than a serious injury, in which he will not be world No 1 by the time the French Open and Wimbledon come around.

Djokovic is at his best on outdoor hard courts and loves the quick conditions here. He has now won 23 of his past 24 matches in Dubai, his only defeat in that run having been against Murray in last year's semi-finals. With two Masters Series tournaments coming up on hard courts, in Indian Wells and Miami, later this month before the start of the clay-court season, Djokovic's rivals could soon be watching him head even further over the horizon.

Of all the Serb's many qualities, ranging from his extraordinary athleticism to his stunning returns of serve, his consistency is arguably his greatest, as he showed when he won his first 41 matches of the year in 2011. Since losing to Murray at Flushing Meadows, he has won 13 matches in succession against top-10 opponents.

Djokovic had come out on top in 12 of his previous 13 meetings with Berdych, though the 27-year-old Czech has been in excellent form of late. He reached the final in Marseilles seven days ago and beat Federer in Friday's semi-finals here, after saving three match-points.

Few players hit the ball as hard as Berdych, but Djokovic avoided getting into too many slugging matches with the world No 6 by pulling him around the court and forcing him into mistakes by taking pace off the ball.

Berdych made the first break of serve in the fifth game with a superb running forehand cross-court pass, but Djokovic levelled at 4-4 when the Czech netted an easy volley. At 5-6 Berdych followed three unforced errors with a double fault to hand Djokovic the set.

A horrible missed smash by Berdych when serving at 3-4 gave Djokovic the only break he needed in the second set and he closed out his victory after an hour and 34 minutes when Berdych put a backhand into the net.

"It's been a great week for me," Djokovic said afterwards, while Berdych's verdict was simple: "Novak was just too good."

Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week