Djokovic looks rock solid in Dubai title pursuit

Djokovic looks rock solid in Dubai title pursuit
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Published February 14th, 2015 - 23:28 GMT via

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Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic cut a picture of someone who was simply trying to come to terms with his tiredness and physical fatigue at the Australian Open final last month.

Eventually, he did well to topple one of his top rivals in four sets and become the first five-time Australian Open men’s singles champion in the Open Era in Melbourne. It was a well-deserved accolade for sure, and in doing so, Djokovic now stands just one title away from equalling Roy Emerson’s tennis record of six titles Down Under. But it was also the third time that the Serb was denying Andy Murray in a final on Rod Laver Arena - Djokovic won on two previous occasions in 2011 and 2013.

So perhaps it was only befitting that Emerson himself handed Djokovic the trophy that marked the Serb’s eighth overall Grand Slam crown, thus putting him alongside greats such as Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Fred Perry.

But what is it that makes Djokovic so special as a tennis player? For sure it is the evolution that the 27-year-old has gone through following his marriage in July and the birth of his first child in October last year. The tennis ace has more often than once admitted that these two events “have brought new meaning and joy” to his life.

“2014 has been the best of my life. I started my family. I feel more satisfied and complete. I am happy to such an extent that it’s hard to express and describe it,” Djokovic has maintained time and again. He has also been quite happy in admitting that his wife Jelena has been a source of “great support, love and happiness” and that their son Stefan has given their relationship “additional meaning”.

However, and quite ominously, Djokovic has also made it amply clear that his professional goals remain unchanged. And these goals for 2015 include winning more Grand Slams, with a special emphasis on the French Open where ultimate glory has evaded the Serb so far.

Dubai may not rank exactly at the top of his priority list, but winning here could certainly help Djokovic continue his attempt for yet another splendid season.

As the defending champion, Roger Federer stays with a Dubai record of six singles titles so far. For the past few years now, there has been a growing concern that the Swiss ace may well be past his prime - clearly substantiated through his losses against lesser-known opponents.

But no one can question what the Swiss star has achieved in such a glittering career. Federer wrote yet another happy page in the history books of tennis when he won the Brisbane Open last month to earn not only his 83rd title but also his 1000th singles triumph - something that has been achieved only twice before in the Open era stretching back to 1968.

So when Federer arrives, he means business. He is simply always the player to beat any place he goes on the tour. And with a record that includes six titles starting from his Dubai debut in 2002 which saw a second round exit against German Rainer Schuettler, Federer will certainly be looking a perfect seven on the final day of the month. And lest we forget, Federer had an amazing 2014 that included five singles titles while reaching another six finals.

Much has been made of Murray’s choice of former world number one Amelie Mauresmo as coach. However, if last month’s four-set final against Djokovic is anything to go by, then truly the Scotsman is soaring towards striking peak form as the season rolls on. Murray, who for the past few years has shown a preference for the hard courts of North America, is making a re-appearance in Dubai where he has a sizeable following. And that indeed may find Murray advancing at least to the last four stage of the tournament here.

Tomas Berdych, often over-shadowed by the feats of the top three or four, has always been among the favourites here. In 2013, he proved his strength when he held three match points before winning in three sets against Federer - who went on to avenge this loss with a win against the Czech in last year’s final.

“Look at the field and you will see that this is nothing short of a Grand Slam draw,” Salah Tahlak, Tournament Director, told Gulf News.

“Now is the time for action and we will have plenty of this action when Dubai plays host to most of the best players in the business. This is Dubai and the excitement will never stop,” he added.

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