Djokovic Edges Youzhny at Dubai Championships

by John on February 28, 2010

Tennis fans in Dubai certainly got their money’s worth watching defending-champion Novak Djokovic this past week. The No.2-ranked Serbian defeated Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships earlier today in a match lasting 3 hours and 21 minutes and spanning two days. Rain halted yesterday’s play with the Serbian leading 7-5, 2-0 and very much in control. Upon resumption today, Djokovic lost his edge and had to battle to hold off his stubborn Russian opponent. The title was the No. 2-seeded Djokovic’s first of the year and 17th of his career. Nole’s path to the final was anything but easy. He had to rally from a set down to Marcos Bahgdatis (semis), Ivan Ljubicic (quarters) and Viktor Troiki (second round) before the grueling battle with Youzhny. “Obviously this tournament I don’t allow myself to win in straight sets except the first round,” Djokovic said, laughing. “Even when I can finish the job in two sets, I still want to play. Thinking about people who bought tickets and want to stay a bit longer.” Djokovic’s serve was erratic, winning 71 percent of points on his first serve while registering 12 double faults. Youzhny took advantage of the Serbian’s mistakes and rallied from 2-0 down in the second set, taking it to a decider by breaking in the ninth and 11th games. Djokovic raced to a 3-0 in the third set, but Youhzny won the next three games and had two break-point chances to lead 4-3. “I thought the key point was keeping my serve when we were 3-3 in the third set,” Djokovic said. Youzhny concurred that the seventh game was the turning point of the match. “If I won that game, nobody knows how the match would have finished,” the No. 7-seeded Russian said. Top-seeded Roger Federer pulled out of the tournament with a lung infection. “Honestly, I did not have the best tournament,” Djokovic said. “I struggled for the most part and the only day I felt comfortable was yesterday, leading the first set and 2-0 when the rain came in. And when I came out today, I struggled again and Mikhail started playing really well.”

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