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."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones