Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Dubai Tennis champion Novak Djokovic marks Stefanos Tsitsipas as future world No 1

Serb extends great start to season with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the Greek in Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final

Novak Djokovic has earmarked Stefanos Tsitsipas as a future world No 1 and says he is capable of winning Grand Slams after beating the Greek to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final on Saturday.

Not since Stan Wawrinka at the 2016 US Open has a men's player other than Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer won any of the four Grand Slams, but Djokovic believes the 21-year-old Tsitsipas possesses the ability and character to break the Big Three's stranglehold on the majors.

"I love the fact that he is more than just a tennis player and he's always looking to learn from the experience and to understand something new about himself so he can improve, get better," Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-4 victory.

"That for me is a trait of a champion, of someone that for sure has a great potential to be No 1 of the world and win Grand Slams and be a great ambassador of our sport. He already is, but he has a great future ahead of him, I'm sure.

"You go through the process of self-realisation and learning, maturing, then understanding what's good for you in life, in your career. He's a mature man already. He's very smart, very wise."

Tsitsipas marked himself as a contender for this year's Grand Slams by winning the end-of-season ATP Finals crown in 2019.

The world No 6 suffered a second successive loss in the Dubai finals having fallen to Federer last year.

Coming into the championship match, Tsitsipas had lost just one set this week.

"It [defeat] happened again [in a final here]," said Tsitsipas, "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."

Djokovic's triumph was his fifth at the Dubai Tennis Championships and extended his unbeaten run to 21. He has won 18 matches this season, lifting the ATP Cup with Serbia before a record-extending eighth Australian Open title in Melbourne.

Djokovic has earned a winning streak of at least 20 matches for the seventh time in his career and in the 2011 season he went 41-0 during a 43-match winning streak before losing in the Roland Garros semi-finals.

"One of the targets is to go unbeaten the whole season," Djokovic said in an on-court interview before bursting into laughter. "No, I'm kidding. I'm not kidding, actually."

Updated: March 1, 2020 09:33 AM

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