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Djokovic humbles Federer in Dubai final

Updated: 2011-02-27 20:27
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - After winning the Australian Open for a second time, Novak Djokovic said he had the confidence to win any other tournament. He sure demonstrated that at the Dubai Championships.

Djokovic humbles Federer in Dubai final
Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the trophy after winning his final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the ATP Dubai Tennis Championships, February 26, 2011. Defending champion Novak Djokovic won his third consecutive title at the Dubai championships when he defeated top seed Roger Federer in just 71 minutes on Saturday. [Photo/Agencies] 

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The No 3-ranked Djokovic overwhelmed Roger Federer in just over an hour Saturday to win his third Dubai title and 20th overall, thrashing the 16-time Grand Slam winner 6-3, 6-3. The humbling defeat comes just weeks after Djokovic beat the Swiss star in the Australian Open semifinals and runs the Serb's unbeaten record in 2011 to 12 matches.

"I was aware of the challenge that is expected of me on the court, and I was aware of the fact that I need to be on top of my game in order to beat Roger," said Djokovic, who was taken to three sets earlier in the tournament by Tomas Berdych and Feliciano Lopez.

"So the focus was there. I was serving really well, especially the first set. Just the perfect performance overall."

Despite the defeat, Federer will keep his No. 2 ranking ahead of Djokovic.

Still, the lopsided victory will raise questions _ as it did after the Australian Open _ about a changing of the guard at the top of men's tennis which has for so many years been dominated by Federer and more recently Rafael Nadal. Djokovic wasn't ready to talk about Federer's demise but did sound like a player who no longer fears playing him.

"Any time I win against Roger it's a great success because he's such a great player," he said.

"We all know how mentally strong of a player he is. To be able to win against Roger in straight sets as I did tonight is incredible, but I want to keep on going," he said. "I know that I have qualities to do even more, and that's what I want."

Federer went into Saturday's match playing the best tennis of the tournament, beating all four of his opponents in straight sets. But it never showed against Djokovic as he let slip a 3-1 lead in the second set, losing the last five games to hand Djokovic victory in one hour, 11 minutes.

"Well, missed match for me, really," Federer said. "Started bad and then kind of got into the match, but things are over in a hurry sometimes in best of three set tennis."

Federer has dominated his rivalry with Djokovic in the past, and still leads the head-to-head 13-8, but he has lost to the Serb at the last two Grand Slam tournaments, and now in Dubai.

"We've had it kind of come and go in spells a bit against each other," Federer said. "I definitely feel he's playing well. I thought he was already playing well at the end of last year. We had a couple real close ones. This one has been one of the rather disappointing matches for me against him."

Djokovic set the tone early, breaking Federer for only the third time in the tournament to go up 2-1 and then using his serve to take control of the set. Federer managed to win only two of 17 return points and Djokovic was able to break for a second time to win the set.

"I'm a different player in last year. I have a serve," said Djokovic, who had five aces in the first set and won 88 percent of his first service points. "Last year, the serve was not there and I was struggling a lot. I was using a lot of energy. Now I get to have some free points, which is important."

Federer made an uncharacteristically high number of unforced errors, especially off his backhand, but he came alive at the start of the second set broke Djokovic to go up 2-1. Djokovic appeared visibly upset after being broken and motioned to his entourage, waving his hands in a circle.

"I felt in one game I just suddenly changed. My groundstrokes got a little bit slower and maybe lost a little bit balance," he said. "But I managed to regain my focus in and next two games, and it was all better."

Djokovic recovered from 3-1 down, clinching the match when Federer hit a forehand wide.

Federer, who suffered only his second loss this year in 16 matches, compared the defeat to the thrashing he gave Nikolay Davydenko to win the Qatar Open in January. It was his worst performance by far in Dubai, a tournament he had won four times.

"I must have felt like Davydenko felt in Doha," he said. "You never really get into the match. If you do, you have no cushion. You just feel like even though you might be in the lead or get yourself together, it's still never safe."

The 29-year-old Federer wasn't about to dwell on the loss, reminding reporters that he had won several other finals in London, Basel and Doha the past several months so "I guess I had to mess one up." He sidestepped a question about areas of his game that need work, saying only that he has to spend more time on court.

He now heads to the United States for the hardcourt swing that includes Indian Wells and Miami.

"I feel like I need more practice, just a little bit here and there," he said. "Just a lot of hitting, exercises, then maybe also some more points."

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