Four-time former champion Novak Djokovic extended his perfect record to 17-0 in 2020 on Friday after beating no.3 seed Gael Monfils in a tough three-setter 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-1 in two hours and 35 minutes at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre.

The top seed booked his place in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final for the sixth time (4-1).

Novak needed time to find the rhythm against his in-form rival. After he got broken three times, The Serbian star found himself a set and a break down before making a comeback to force a second set tie-break. Djokovic was on the verge of defeat while trailing 3/6, but used all his powerful weapons and played his best tennis under the pressure to save three consecutive match points. He tied the match at one set apiece, then cruised to the victory in the final set, with three breaks of serve.

“It’s like being on the edge of a cliff,” Nole said about facing match points. “You know there is no way back so you have to jump over and try to find a way to survive I guess, and pray for the best and believe that you can make it, that there is something that is going to help you. That’s one of the things that I feel at the moment. One point away, one shot away. There is no going back. This is it. I accept the situation and try to make the most out of it.”

Match statistics: aces (5-8), double faults (1-6), total points won (103-95).

The 17-time Grand Slam titlist next faces second-seeded Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas, with whom he is tied 2-2 in their ATP H2H series.

The final match is scheduled on Saturday at 19:00 local time (16:00 CET).

Looking ahead to the challenge, Djokovic said: “It’s anybody’s game really. He’s won eight matches in a row, from last week in France winning the Marseille title, now playing more or less every single day, which is quite impressive. It’s not easy. I hope I can recover. I hope I can be at my best, because I need to start better than I have tonight. Hopefully I can get a title.”

Novak is now 40-6 at the ATP 500 tournament, and will be looking to add to his 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 triumphs.

Photo: Profimedia

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