DUBAI: During the trophy presentation of the Dubai Open, tournament director Salah Talak congratulated the “World No 1 Roger Federer” on winning the title. There was an embarrassed silence before the Novak Djokovic fans murmured their protest. It wasn’t the kind of faux pas you would expect from the event’s top official, but that seemed to be the popular sentiment in the arena, dressed in Swiss red. Federer was their number one.
For most part of the evening, the Swiss had played much better than the best player in the world. He served, shuffled and stroked his way to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Djokovic in Sunday’s final to claim his seventh title in the Gulf nation.
With the quick courts highlighting his flashy game, Federer had been a neon orange blur on the horizon for all his rivals.
“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,” Federer said.
“It definitely helps practicing in Dubai quite a bit. I know how the ball flies and the conditions here. I also think I had a rough first visit here to Dubai where I was accused for not putting in my best effort. I really felt like I had something to prove after that.”
It had been a dominating week for Federer, who won the title without losing a set and also crossed the milestone of 9000 aces in professional tennis during the course of the final. More importantly, it was just the kind of victory and tournament the 17-time Grand Slam champion needed after a disappointing third round loss against Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open.
The Swiss master did suffer a slight wobble in the final stretch, when he had to save a couple of set points at 6-5. But it was one of those days when Federer’s serve passed the test of nerves spectacularly.