Dubai Open 2020 Final Preview: Djokovic puts perfect season on the line in title clash with Tsitsipas

Djokovic (left) will take on Tsitsipas for the 2020 Dubai Open title
Djokovic (left) will take on Tsitsipas for the 2020 Dubai Open title
Modified 28 Feb 2020

Novak Djokovic doesn't know when he is beaten. Gael Monfils looked like he had come up with the perfect game plan to secure his first victory in 17 attempts against the top-seeded Serb. The Frenchman blazed through the opening set 6-2, led by a break in the second, and then took a 6-3 lead in the ensuing tiebreak.

Three match points for Monfils, two of them on his own serve. Surely Djokovic would not be able to do it all over again? Surely the Frenchman had done enough to grab his much-awaited maiden win against the Serb?

Incredibly, Monfils fluffed both opportunities on serve and a third went begging on Djokovic's serve as the Serb roared back to take the set on his 8th set point. From that point onwards, there was always going to be only one winner.

Monfils looked visibly tired, often stopping between points to catch his breath. Once the match slipped out of his grasp, Djokovic barged through the door and sprinted across the finish line for the loss of just one game in the third set.

In the process, the Serb extended both his perfect record for the season and his head-to-head against Monfils to 17-0, returning to the Dubai final for the first time in 5 years.

Also read: Novak Djokovic and his fascination for saving match points.

Earlier in the day, in the first semifinal, Stefanos Tsitsipas had it a lot easier, seeing off the challenge of Dan Evans in straight sets to reach the Dubai final for the second time in as many years. The young Greek is riding an 8-match win streak having successfully defended his Marseille title last week.

Tsitsipas and Djokovic have split their 4 previous meetings on tour, with Tsitsipas winning in the second round at 2018 Toronto and the quarterfinals at 2019 Shanghai and Djokovic returning the favour in the 2019 Madrid final and the 2019 Paris-Bercy quarterfinals.

The young Greek won the 2019 ATP Finals for the biggest title of his young career but is a combined 0-5 in ATP 500 and Masters 1000 finals, and also lost the Dubai title match to Roger Federer last year.

In Djokovic, Tsitsipas would have the toughest test of his title credentials. The 5-time titlist does have the firepower to overwhelm Djokovic. However, will he be able to display the consistency and the temperament needed to thwart one of the best returners and mentally strong players the game has ever seen? Will Tsitsipas be the man to end Djokovic's perfect start to the 2020 season?

Over to the final day of the 2020 ATP Dubai Open.

Also read: 4 milestones awaiting Djokovic in 2020

Published 28 Feb 2020
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