(March 2, 2013) Top seed and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-3 to win his fourth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in five years and his 36th career ATP World Tour title
Berdych gained the first break to lead 3-2 with a crosscourt winner, and although Djokovic broke back to level at 4-4 he then had to fight off three break points to hold for a 5-4 lead.
The set ended with Djokovic breaking again when Berdych double-faulted on break point.
The second set was equally close, with the only break coming at 4-3 when Berdych hit an overhead smash wide. Even then, Djokovic has to survive a break point with an ace as he served out the match.
“My serving today was great, [I had a] very high percentage of first serves, over 200 [kilometres per hour], Djokovic said. I really felt that I could rely on my serve. And in tough moments, that part of my game actually helped me to prevail. To be honest, I haven’t played as aggressive and maybe as good as I have played in yesterday’s match [versus Juan Martin del Potro] or previous matches during this week. But that’s also because I had [my] toughest challenge.
“I felt when I came from break down that I started believing in myself a little bit more. He basically gave me that break on 4‑3 when he missed an easy volley, but still, I fight and I believed I can come back.
“That’s I think something that can eventually decide the winner in these kind of matches in this kind of level, just hanging in there and waiting for your chance and then going for it.”
Berdych said although he earned the first break he was very far from victory.
“I was able to play the rallies with him quite well, especially from the baseline, and try to hold him under the pressure. He also make a couple of mistakes. So, yeah, I mean, the beginning was really good.
“But it’s been very, very far, you know. I would say, couple of chances that I had a break, but playing with the best returning guy on tour, it’s just an advantage but not something really huge, you know. It was a quite good game, but it was not enough today.”
Both players support the tournament being upgraded from an ATP 500 series to the highest 1000 level.
“I was actually talking with Tomas on court about it,” Djokovic said. “I don’t know a single player who has played here and has a negative feeling about the tournament. On the contrary, everybody wishes that this tournament is played for a bit longer time, also, like we have Indian Wells and Miami, and I think that this tournament deserves.”
Berdych added, “That’s definitely the way that this place should try to be and try to do it. I mean, they don’t have to be afraid of actually anything because they have everything to accommodate, to make the hospitality on that level and for the players, people around, everybody.
“It would be very interesting to see. I have to tell you that it could be really easily competing for the best 1000 tournament in the world, as well. Yeah, they have a pretty good chance.”
In the doubles final, Mahesh Bhupathi and Michael Llodra beat Robert Lindstedt and Nenad Zimonjic 7-6(8-6), 7-6(8-6). It was the first time the pair had played together, and it was Bhupathi’s fifth win in Dubai with each title coming with a different partner.
“It’s like playing at home here,” said Bhupathi. “I’ve got so many friends and so much family. I used to live here for so many years. It’s great to come back. The Indian support is obviously tremendous. Playing on that court before the final, it’s an amazing atmosphere.”
All photos by Nida Alibhai.