Tennis: Djokovic beats Youzhny to retain Dubai title
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Dubai Championships title on Sunday, beating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a rain-delayed final.
Leading 7-5, 2-0 before rain suspended play on Saturday, the second-seeded Serb won his 17th career title in a match lasting 3 hours, 21 minutes at the Aviation Club. There were seven breaks of serve in Sunday's 19 games.
Roger Federer is the only other player to win the Dubai title in successive years, winning three straight from 2003-05.
Djokovic was erratic on serve, winning 71 percent of points on first serve while also making 12 double faults.
"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."
Djokovic led 3-0 in the third set but Youzhny won the next three games and had two breakpoint 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 agreed that the seventh game was the turning point of the match.
"If I won that game, nobody knows how the match would have finished," he said.
Youzhny rallied from 2-0 down in the second set, taking it into a decider after breaking in the ninth and 11th games.
"Before the tournament, if you say you'll play the final you say it is a good result," Youzhny said. "But now, straight after the final, when you have some chances, you do get disappointed."
Djokovic collected $383,000 and 500 ranking points, while Youzhny picked up nearly $183,000 and 300 points.