Making his first appearance at the Dubai Open in four years, Novak Djokovic beat returning finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to win his 5th title at the tournament, seven long years after winning his fourth.
In the process, the Serb won his 79th career single's title, and second of the season to extend his winning streak to 21-0 and his perfect record in 2020 to 18-0.
The victory was Djokovic's second over Tsitsipas in a tournament final, having earlier beaten the 5-time titlist at 2019 Madrid. In the process, the 17-time Grand Slam champion takes the lead (3-2) for the first time in the pair's rivalry.
Roger Federer apart, Djokovic is the only player in the history of the Dubai Open to have lifted multiple titles and do a three peat at the tournament. On that note, let us have a look at the Serb's 5 title runs in Dubai.
#1. 2009: Beats David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3
After losing to Federer in the 2007 quarterfinals and to Andy Roddick in the 2008 semifinals, Djokovic lifted his first title in Dubai by beating David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3 in the final.
It was the Serb who made the faster start, breaking Ferrer for a 4-2 lead. After Ferrer broke back immediately, Djokovic squandered the opportunity to serve for the set at 5-3 before winning 8 of the last 9 points of the net to take the opener 7-5.
There was not as much drama in the second where Djokovic surged to a 4-1 lead. Although Ferrer reduced the arrears to 3-4, there was no stopping the young Serb who closed out a 7-5, 6-3 win for the 12th single's title of his young career and his first in Dubai.
#2. 2010: Beats Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
Making his 4th consecutive appearance at the tournament, Djokovic successfully defended his Dubai title by beating Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a hard-fought title match.
Barring a straight-set win over Guillermo Garcia Lopez in the opening round, Djokovic conceded a set in each of his 4 other matches at the tournament, needing to claw back a set deficit in consecutive matches against compatriot Viktor Troicki, Ivan Ljubicic, and Marcos Baghdatis to set up a title clash with Youzhny.
In a rain-delayed final, Djokovic led 7-5, 2-0, 30-15 when the heavens opened up for a second time forcing suspension of play for the day. Upon resumption the next day, Youzhny clawed back from a 0-3 deficit to take the second set 7-5 and force a decider.
Just like in the second set, Youzhny recovered a 0-3 deficit to draw level at 3-3 only for Djokovic to regroup by winning the next three games to become the first player after Federer (2006) to successfully defend his title at the tournament.
# 3: 2011: Beats Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3
Unlike his early exertions in his last appearance, Djokovic dropped only a set in his first three matches at the 2011 Dubai Open as he saw off Michael Llodra, Feliciano Lopez, and Florian Mayer respectively before beating Tomas Berdych to set up a title showdown with five-time champion Roger Federer.
The two-time defending champion rode two breaks of the Federer serve to take the opener 6-3. Federer responded by taking an early break to lead 2-1 in the second but the response from Djokovic was swift.
The then two-time Grand Slam champion broke Federer twice to close out a 6-3, 6-3 win in 71 minutes, in the process emulating Federer himself as the only players in tournament history to win a three peat at the Dubai Open.
#4: 2013: Beats Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-3
In his most dominating title run at the Dubai Open, Djokovic won his 4th title at the tournament without dropping a set.
Fresh off a third Australian Open title, the Serb reeled off successive straight set wins over compatriot Viktor Troicki, Roberto Bautista Agut, Andreas Seppi, and Juan Martin Del Potro, before facing Tomas Berdych for a shot at the title.
Making a slow start, Djokovic fell behind 2-4 in the first before winning 5 of the next 6 games to grab the opener and wrest control of the match. In a lengthy 8-minute game at 4-3 in the second, Djokovic broke Berdych and served out the win in his next game to win his fourth Dubai title in 5 years.
# 5. 2020: Beats Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4
Appearing at the Dubai Open for the first time since a quarterfinal defeat to Feliciano Lopez in 2016, Djokovic beat Malek Jaziri, Philipp Kohlschreiber, and Karen Khachanov in straight sets before escaping three consecutive match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinals to reach his 6th final at the tournament.
The Serb made the first move in the title match against Tsitsipas, breaking for a 5-3 lead and promptly serving out the opener to take a one set lead.
Djokovic looked on course for a routine win when he broke Tsitsipas for 3-2 in the second but the young Greek broke back and stayed on serve till Djokovic made the decisive break of the set at 4-4.
Four points later, Djokovic held his arms aloft celebrating his first title at the tournament in 7 years, since winning his fourth in 2013.