DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — Novak Djokovic set his sights on another marathon run of invincibility after capturing his 79th career title on Saturday.
The world number one claimed the Dubai Championships for the fifth time, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
Djokovic is now on an 18-0 winning run this season, and 21-0 overall since late 2019, as he ended an eight-match win streak for his Greek opponent champion last weekend in Marseille.
Djokovic claimed his third trophy of 2020 after helping Serbia to the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Cup and winning an eighth Australian Open.
It is the seventh time that the 32-year-old Djokovic has won more than 20 matches on the trot.
His record is 43 set in 2010 and 2011 with a run of 28 his next best, achieved on two occasions in 2013-2014 and 2015.
“This has been one of the best starts of all seasons I’ve had. I feel great on the court,” Djokovic said.
“I’m just grateful that I’m playing well, feeling well. I’ve won many matches now in a row. I’ll try to keep that run going.”
Next up for Djokovic will be the season’s first Masters events, back-to-back hard court assignments at Indian Wells and Miami.
After that will be European clay and an eventual assault on a second French Open title and 18th major.
“Motivation is never lacking. Of course, I get inspired by the goals that I set. That’s why I compete.”
“The season has started in a most perfect way possible. I am aware of the fact that most of the matches that I’m going to play, the players will not have much to lose.”
“They will go out and try stop the streak.”
Saturday’s victory, achieved in less than 90 minutes, also saw the Serbian awarded a “golden visa” by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.
The honor bestows a decade of residency in the tax-free emirate.
“Dubai has been a very important city in my career not just because of the tournament but because I’ve been actually coming as a tourist here and using this as a base for pre-season training,” he said.
Tsitsipas lost his second straight final in Dubai after going down to Roger Federer a year ago.
“It was close in both sets,” Djokovic added. “A few points decided it. I’m most proud of my consistency this week, especially on shots from the baseline.”
The top seed produced a straightforward win after a close-call semifinal where he saved three match points against Gael Monfils.
“I was just a point from going out, I might not have been here,” the winner said. “But it shows how quickly things can turn.”
Djokovic broke for 5-3 in the opening set and served it out moments later.
The second set was slightly tighter, with the Serbian losing a break as Tsitsipas leveled at 3-all.
But Djokovic came through again with a break for 5-4 as his opponent hit the net.
A game later, Djokovic was lifting another trophy as he found the corner with a winner.
Djokovic will stay number one in the ATP rankings on Monday to start a 280th week atop the table.
He was playing the final in Dubai for a sixth time in 11 appearances. It was, however, his first final at the tournament since 2015 when he lost to Federer.
Coming into the championship match, the 21-year-old Tsitsipas had lost just one set this week.
“It (defeat) happened again (in a final here),” said Tsitsipas, the winner of the ATP Finals in November. “But it’s all a learning experience.”
“It’s been a tiring week, that’s all I can say. I don’t really feel much honestly. I felt happier last year when I made the finals. But I’m proud of myself because I showed good discipline.”