Djokovic defends Dubai title

DUBAI: Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the weather-hit ATP Dubai Open today, defeating Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a roller coaster of a final.

The match had been held over from Saturday due to rain with defending champion Djokovic 7-5, 2-0 ahead. At the stage the second seeded Serb had appeared to be coasting to his first ever defence of an ATP title when the first rain seen in the Emirates since early January sent players and fans alike scampering for cover.

But all that changed when the two players got back on court in hot, sunny conditions on Sunday. Youzhny first of all broke back to level at 4-4 and then, helped by two Djokovic double faults, he put himself into position to serve for the second set. The frustrated Serb was warned for racquet abuse at the changeover but his display of temper appeared to help him refocus as he broke back in the following game to level at 5-5. Once again though the Djokovic serve failed to function and he was broken to love on the back of three unforced errors. This time Youzhny, who beat Djokovic in the Rotterdam semi-finals two weeks ago, made no mistake, holding his own serve to love to level the set scores.

Djokovic regained the initiative at the start of the deciding set, breaking Youzhny’s serve with a big forehand down the line in the second game as

he moved out into a 3-0

lead. But once again the Russian dug deep to break back two games later, drawing level once more at 3-3. Youzhny had a break point to go 4-3 up, but blasted wide with a cross-court forehand as Djokovic looked to be out of the rally.

The Russian paid the full price in the following game when two unforced errors gave Djokovic two break points and he converted the second of those when Youzhny hit a forehand long after an energy-sapping rally. Djokovic comfortably served out to clinch his first title win of the year and consolidate his world No 2 ranking behind Roger Federer.

Malaysia Open

KUALA LUMPUR: Inexperienced Russian Alisa Kleybanova fired a barrage of powerful baseline shots and aces to clinch the crown over compatriot Elena Dementieva in the final of the Malaysian Open on Sunday. The 21-year-old Kleybanova dominated the match in humid conditions and won 6-3, 6-2 in just over 100 minutes. Fourth seed Kleybanova pressured first seed Dementieva into making unforced errors to gain her first WTA title, for which she pockets $37,000. Kleybanova was intelligent with her serves, setting up easy forehand hits to win points.

The match was suspended in the first set for 95 minutes due to rain. On resumption,

Kleybanova continued to play an aggressive game and

stayed with the rallies, unintimidated by 28-year-old seventh-ranked Dementieva’s booming baseline shots.

Dementieva pushed Kleybanova out of the court on many occasions but Kleybanova’s deep baseline volleys and precision returns won her points. Both players fought hard but Kleybanova outclassed Dementieva in all aspects of the game and scored four aces. The ice-cool Kleybanova was an unstoppable force and ended the match with a powerful serve. There were excellent rallies but favourite Dementieva failed to squeeze the ball in and struggled on her serves.

At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Dementieva

defeated compatriot Dinara Safina in the gold-medal

final to win the singles title. She recently grabbed title wins in Sydney and Paris.