Novak’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships campaign was ended on Friday when he fell to no.4 seed Roger Federer 6-3, 3-6, 2-6 in one hour and 46 minutes.
Four-time champion and top seed got an easy break in the second game of the opening set. He consolidated it for 3-0 lead and kept the advantage to take it after 35 minutes of play.
The world no.2 earned a break point in the fifth game of the second set, but Federer got out of trouble. The semi-final match was interrupted by rain in the sixth game with Novak being 0-30 down. Play resumed after five minutes, and the Swiss won the first point to earn three break points. Djokovic saved two, but Roger broke on third to take a 4-2 lead. He closed the set three games later to level the match at one set all.
Novak double-faulted on a break point in the first game of the deciding final set to hand his opponent a break advantage. Federer broke once again in the fifth game and served out the set and match 6-2.
“He deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “He played better in the second part of the match and was more aggressive and played all around the court really well. I dropped the opening game of the third set; it was quite a bad service game for me. I started making a lot of unforced errors in the second part of the second set and just wasn’t managing to move as well. He felt that this was his opportunity, and he used it. That’s why he’s a big champion.“
Match statistics: aces (5-7), double faults (2-0), winners (24-26), unforced errors (23-20), total points won (79-83).
It was Novak’s first ATP tournament since the Australian Open.
He will head to the USA, where the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments of the season will be played. The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells begins on March 6 and the Sony Open Tennis in Miami starts on March 19.
Before that, Nole will take part in two exhibition events. He will meet Andy Murray on March 3 in the BNP Paribas Showdown, the World Tennis Day celebration in New York.
A day later, he will return to the Desert Smash at La Quinta Resort & Club, in support of Cancer for College.
Photo: AFP/Getty Images