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."

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture