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Well, Roger was right: there were a few good rallies. But mostly, Novak Djokovic kicked butt on serve, leaving the rallies to Roger Federer’s service games (and winning a lot of them). The Serb took out the Swiss in a routine looking 6-3, 6-3 scoreline in the finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, joining Roger as only the second man to win the tournament three straight times. The Aussie Open champ remains undefeated this season, and is making his case as the “Real No. 1.”
Novak is well, feelin’ it (quotes via the ATP website):
“I have this feeling in my head, and it’s really important to know for me that I can perform this well,” said Djokovic. “This match has probably been one of the best that I played this year. I want to keep it up, definitely. I feel physically well, fit, mentally motivated to do even more coming up to Indian Wells and Miami where I haven’t done well in the last years.
“Any time I win against Roger it’s a great success because he’s such a great player. We all know how mentally strong of a player he is. To be able to win against Roger in straight sets as I did tonight is incredible, but I want to keep on going. I know that I have qualities to do even more, and that’s what I want.”
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Roger – who it has to be said, played some pretty uninspired, error-strewn tennis out there this evening (yes, Nole applied the pressure, but Roger hitting an overhead into the bottom of the net is just. . . URGGGGGGH!) – is never one to admit (too much) defeat. Instead of dwelling on the recent semifinal losses to Nole in the majors, and this weekend’s trip to the woodshed, he’s focusing on the positives:
“I think Novak played well,” he said. “[It was] obviously [a] disappointing end as well to the match. I guess you can’t win them all. I played so well in Doha in the finals, in London in the finals, in Basel in the finals. I guess I had to mess one up. It’s a pity, but, look, Novak played great.
“I definitely feel he’s playing well. I thought he was already playing well at the end of last year. We had a couple of real close ones. This one has been one of the rather disappointing matches for me against him. I can’t play great every time either. So it’s been a tough one, but I’m not too disappointed. It’s another final for me. I tried tonight. Just didn’t really happen for me.”
I understand Roger’s semi-blase attitude, but part of me wonders if he’s letting this whatever attitude creep into his game a little too much, at least in Dubai. Yes, you have nothing to prove, Roger. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep provin’ it. There was something a little too casual in this loss for me, the diehard fan. The dumping of his serve right after breaking in the second set, the succession of forehand errors, the lack of urgency in his return of serve – it’s just not pleasant to watch. If the sight of Nole applauding his occasional winners couldn’t inspire the Prideful Roger to at least bag the second set, I have to wonder if the Man in Yellow has grown a little too mellow?
Some highlights from the final: