Photos by Nida Alibhai
(February 28, 2015) DUBAI, UAE – Defending champion Roger Federer beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-5 to win a seventh title at the Tennis Championships on Saturday and his second title of the year. The 17-time major champion has also notched seven title at Wimbledon and Halle.
“The seventh is quite unbelievable, what I hear people talking about that, announcing I’m the seven or six-time winner here in Dubai. Sounds pretty crazy,” he said. “I guess it definitely helps practicing in Dubai quite a bit. I know how the ball flies and the conditions here.”
The win for the Swiss marks his 84th career title. He also became only the fourth player since 1991 to hit 9000 aces in his career.
Reflecting on his first career ace, Federer said: “I think I remember which one it was even because I was even counting a little bit! I think it was one of the swinger wides maybe. I’m not sure. But I think it happened in the second set at some point. But clearly it is nice to get past that so now I don’t have to think about it ever again for the next 9,000 or so!”
It is the seventh straight year that either Federer or Djokovic has won the title. For 11 of the last 13 years one of the two has held up the winner’s trophy.
“I think the first set belonged to me, whereas the second set belonged to him more,” said Federer. “He created many more opportunities. I struggled to get into his service games more frequently. It seemed like the moment I wasn’t serving great he created chances for himself and put a lot of pressure on me.
“It was a huge game clearly at 5-All, 40-Love for him. I crawled my way back into the game and ended up breaking him. So that was big, but I think the break points saved were even bigger tonight.”
“I thought it was a good match,” said Djokovic. “I thought there wasn’t much difference, a few points decided a winner. I think in important moments maybe I could have been maybe a little bit more aggressive, but small margins, really.
“I thought he just was too good in the points where maybe I had a chance, break points. He served well. He aced. Then, you know, maybe a volley that hit the line. I congratulate him. He deserved it.
“I thought it was a good week overall. I played some terrific tennis. I’m happy with the result here and moving into now Davis Cup and, of course, the hard court season at Indian Wells, Miami, which is going to be tough obviously. But I look forward to it. I actually do feel good about how I played and how I feel physically, and I’m motivated. So I just hope I can continue to maintain that level of high performance throughout the season.”
Federer is now 20-17 lead over Djokovic in their head-to-head series.
The doubles title went to Rohan Bopanna and Daniel Nestor, defeated Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4 6-1. It is their second title of the season and their second together. It’s Nestor’s 87th career men’s doubles title.
“I think we played a really solid match,” said Bopanna. “I think we stuck to our strengths playing aggressive tennis and a high percentage of first serves, which I think was the key. Put a lot of pressure on them.”
“We have had a good start,” Nester commented. “We have beaten a lot of good teams, which is good. Obviously our goal is to win the Grand Slams. The next few weeks are big tournaments. We have to really be ready. But if we play like we are playing and stay positive and keep working hard, we should be all right.”